I just love release days! And today, Toil and Trouble is available!
College student Allie Jones has everything going for her. She's got a good job, is working toward her degree, and has a great car. Her life is ordinary and predictable, until one day a stranger enters her gift shop and attempts to kidnap her. Saved by a young man named Dez who claims to be a fairy guardian, Allie finds herself traveling to the Fey Realm where she learns fairies, mermaids, and elves are real and she was never as ordinary as she thought.
Together they work to discover who was behind her attempted kidnapping and what they were really after. The plot they uncover threatens not only the Fey Realm, but the mortal sphere as well. With an elderly witch, a snarky cat, and a glowing bird as their companions, Dez and Allie prepare to take on the greatest challenge either has ever faced.
Just for fun, I thought I'd show you some of the different ideas I had for the cover design. I wanted something fall and also a little ominous. Toil and Trouble has a happy ending, but it's also got some spookiness to it and some definite tension. While the original image here (left) is definitely fall, it was a little too light and cheery. So a few tweaks to saturation and hue gave it the look I wanted.
Then it was time to find a cover model. A wonderful friend of mine has a daughter who, while younger than my main character, looks exactly as I envisioned Allie. After talking with her and with her mom, we planned a photo shoot and had a great time together. Then it was time to decide which of the many great pictures we had was the right one for the cover. And I had a few ideas:
My husband and I looked at the concepts we'd created and tried to pick the best one. The left and right ones were our favorites. While the middle picture looks great as a picture, we were having a hard time getting the color and lighting to match the background we wanted to use. After sending the two we liked to my cover model to see what she preferred, we chose the left concept. And then it was time to really begin polishing. Fonts were changed out and the photos softened and blended. I'm pretty happy with how the final cover turned out. I think it perfectly sets the mood for the story. What do you think?
Toil and Trouble is available for a temporarily low price of 99 cents through the end of the month. After Halloween, the price will be raised. So, get it while it's on sale and enjoy this trip into the Fey Realm!
I can't believe it's finally release day! Fall Into Romance isn't just a preorder anymore, it's live! I know I speak for all the authors in the set when I say we are so excited to share these wonderful fall tails...tales with you.
Surround yourself in the romance of the autumn season with 10 heartwarming, sweet novellas from USA Today, national bestselling, and award-winning authors.
Each story takes you inside the heart of a small town—its people—and features adorable animal friends in need of a forever home.
Take a trip to Romance, Oregon, where falling in love has never been easier and happily-ever-after is guaranteed!
Finding Forever in Romance by Melanie D. Snitker
Brent's hands are so full he doesn't realize his heart is empty. But how can he convince Nicole to trust him and give them all a chance at the forever family they deserve?
Lost in Romance by Stacy Claflin
Work is Alisyn’s life. Everything is perfect until the day her boss’s son comes to town and takes her breath away. Will she risk it all for love?
At Second Glance by Raine English
Can an ornery French bulldog help a mismatched couple find love?
Blown Into Romance by Shanna Hatfield
Free spirit Brooke Roberts blows into Romance like an autumn storm, unprepared to fall for the handsome rancher who gives her a reason to stay.
Wired for Romance by Franky A. Brown
Electrician Josh Chadwick can rewire his new client’s house, but he can’t do a thing about the electricity sparking between them.
Restoring Romance by Tamie Dearen
She’s a big city chef who likes cats. He’s a small town mayor who restores antiques. But even with feline allergies at play, true love is nothing to sneeze at.
Finding Dori by J.J. DiBenedetto
She’s a loud, pushy New Yorker who drives him crazy. He almost ran her over with his truck. Of course they’re perfect for each other…
Katie’s Chance for Romance by Jessica L. Elliott
Five years ago she pushed him out of her life, but she couldn't force him from her heart.
Chasing Romance by Liwen Y. Ho
When pop sensation Chase Lockhart wants more than a room at Izzy Sutton’s Bed and Breakfast, she must decide whether it’s worth opening up her heart to him, especially when he’s eleven years her junior.
Lessons in Romance by Kit Morgan
A rooster, a tortoise and love, oh my! Now if the humans could just figure out the love part, they might all live happily ever after.
Franky A. Brown
Franky A. Brown has always called the South home and loves to write about it. She holds an English degree from the University of South Carolina and can’t seem to stop reading. She is the author of women’s fiction and chick lit about life, love, and Southern women.
Stacy Claflin is a USA Today bestselling author and a lifelong storyteller. When she was a child, she would get into trouble for trying to convince others that her stories were real. She scarred her younger cousin for life with her Cavity Monster tale. Another time, she convinced her friends that her grandfather had made her a robotic unicorn.
Now she saves her creative imagination for novels. Whether Stacy's writing urban fantasy, suspense, or contemporary romance, she always has thrills, twists, and turns. You can count on surprises and an enjoyable escape.
Tamie lives with her very romantic husband of thirty-three years. They have two grown daughters (the inspiration for the daughters in The Best Girls Series) and one grandson, and a twelve-year-old boy, recently adopted from Ukraine. Tamie loves to play, sing, and write music. She started writing books in 2013 and published her first book in October of that year. Since then, she’s published six novels and a novella. She also wrote a free serial romance on her weekly blog, A Rose in Bloom. And in her spare time, she’s a dentist. (But she’s painless.)
Tamie met her husband as a freshman in college when she acted out of character on a whim. One night in the library lobby, she spied a cute guy with his first name written on the back of his shirt. She called out his name. When he approached to talk to her, she pretended that she’d met him before, asking about his classes and how he liked college. To her surprise and delight, he also pretended that he knew her, but of course he didn’t know her name. They continued this false relationship for two months. Each time they saw each other, an event which occurred three times per week at the cafeteria, he would pretend he knew her. Meanwhile, all of Tamie’s friends were careful not to reveal her name to him. When he finally admitted his ignorance of her name, he was astonished to learn the truth. And the rest is history.
J.J. DiBenedetto is author of the Dream Series and the Jane Barnaby Adventures and lives in Arlington, Virginia with the love of his life and a white cat who rules the roost. His passions are photography, travel, the opera, the New York Giants, and of course writing.
Mr. DiBenedetto is devoted to writing books with a sense of mysticism to entertain and perhaps invite his readers to suspend belief in a way they might never have.
Since he was very young, he has always been intrigued with the supernatural and things that can't be explained rationally. By always asking way too many questions, it piqued his interest to the point of setting his writing off and running when he grew up! All the curiosity building up all those years was finally put into words to captivate readers. And it hasn't ended. His main goal is to share all the stories he has inside, putting pen to paper. And that's how the Dream Series was born.
Jessica L. Elliott
For as long as she can remember, Jessica L. Elliott has been telling stories. As soon as she could grasp a pencil she began writing those stories down. Reading fueled her imagination, as did spending time with her five younger brothers and sisters. Everything was an adventure, something to be treasured and stories were her first love. Jessica began seriously writing in high school and continued into college while attending Emporia State University where she graduated with a bachelor's degree in Elementary Education. She wrote and released her first novel, Charming Academy, in August of 2011. Jessica currently lives in southwest Kansas with her husband and children.
USA Today bestselling and award-winning author Raine English writes sweet small-town contemporary romance, paranormal, and romantic suspense. She's a Romance Writers of America Golden Heart finalist and a Daphne du Maurier Award winner. Raine lives in New England with her family and two French bulldogs, Bailey and Dolly.
Convinced everyone deserves a happy ending, USA Today Bestselling Author Shanna Hatfield is out to make it happen, one story at a time. When she isn’t writing or indulging in chocolate (dark and decadent, please), Shanna hangs out with her husband, lovingly known as Captain Cavedweller.
Liwen Y. Ho
Liwen Y. Ho works as a chauffeur and referee by day (AKA being a stay at home mom) and a writer by night. She penned her first children's picture book, "A Rainbow of Nine Colors" in high school (now available at Meegenius.com) and has been writing for grown-ups since 2014.
She also enjoys writing about real-life matters, such as marriage, parenting and faith because truth can be as strange and entertaining as fiction. Her work has appeared in various online publications, including LiteraryMama.com and MomLifeToday.com, and she is a contributor at StartMarriageRight.com.
In her pre-author life, she received a Masters degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Western Seminary, and she loves makeovers of all kinds, especially those of the heart and mind. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her techie husband and their two children, and blogs about her adventures as a recovering perfectionist at www.2square2behip.com.
A consistent Top 100 lists bestseller, Kit Morgan, aka Geralyn Beauchamp, has been writing for fun all of her life. When writing as Geralyn Beauchamp, her books are epic, adventurous, romantic fantasy at its best. When writing as Kit Morgan they are whimsical, fun, inspirational sweet and clean stories that depict a strong sense of family and community. 'His Prairie Princess' is the first of the Prairie Brides books and the first in the series of a long line of stories about Clear Creek, Oregon. One of the wackiest little towns in the old west! Get to know the townsfolk in Clear Creek and come sit a spell!
Melanie D. Snitker
Melanie D. Snitker is the author of the inspirational romance Love’s Compass series. She has enjoyed writing for as long as she can remember. She started out writing episodes of cartoon shows that she wanted to see as a child and her love of writing grew from there. She and her husband live in Texas with their two children who keep their lives full of adventure, and two dogs who add a dash of mischief to the family dynamics. In her spare time, Melanie enjoys photography, reading, crochet, baking, target shooting, camping, and hanging out with family and friends.
Readers, I can hardly believe there is only one day left until we launch Fall Into Romance!!! I'm so excited for you to read about Mike and Katie and their furry companions as well as the awesome characters and animals created by my author friends. Today though, I'm finally sharing a recipe several of my friends (and a few readers) have begged me for:
S'More Cherry Cake
Back when I was still in the writing phases of Katie's Chance for Romance, I came to the sudden realization that Mike needed a killer recipe to bribe Uncle Earl into helping him with some home improvement projects. Since my favorite place to experiment is in my kitchen, I decided it was time for me to get to work. What would a single guy with an incurable sweet tooth want to make that was easy, delicious, and cheap?
My first thought was some kind of cake. Obviously if allergies weren't an issue, he could just grab a box of mix at the store, and then go from there. But in my house, allergies are an issue, so doing a boxed mix wasn't an option for me. When we first discovered our daughter's allergies, I found this amazing recipe for cake that didn't use dairy from Sweet Little Bluebird. It, and its variations, became a staple in our house where finally my two children with allergies could enjoy a cake without rashes and discomfort afterward.
Now a cake is nice, but if it's going to impress Uncle Earl, it needs to be amazing! That's when the idea of combining two of my favorite treats, s'mores and cherries, came to mind. It took a few tries to get it just right. My husband and children had no problem being guinea pigs for me and when I took the recipe to our family reunion, it was a hit there too! So this is a tried and true, amazing cake recipe. If you want to substitute the cake portion with a boxed mix, go for it! Just follow the instructions on the box and then continue on with the instructions in my recipe. This is a great summer or fall treat with all the fun of camping without the mosquitoes.
S'More Cherry Cake
Preheat oven to 350°F
Graham Cracker Crust
1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
Mix ingredients in a small bowl until well combined. Pour into a greased 13x9 inch cake pan and press mixture flat to create a crust.
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
3 T cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla or almond extract
1 tsp white wine vinegar
5 T canola oil
1 cup water
Sift together dry ingredients. Add liquid ingredients. Stir until all ingredients are combined in a batter. Pour over the graham cracker crust. Bake in preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in cake comes out clean. Leave oven preheated.
1 can cherry pie filling
Appr. 40 large marshmallows
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
Graham cracker crumbs
Once cake has been baked, spread cherry pie filling over the top. Top with marshmallows placed close together (I always have 8 rows of 5 marshmallows in my pan). Place in oven and bake 10-12 minutes until marshmallows expand and are slightly browned on top. Meanwhile, melt chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl (or on your stovetop in a small saucepan). If using a microwave, heat chocolate chips 20-30 seconds at a time and stir between each cooktime until chocolate is smooth.
Once you have removed the cake from the oven, drizzle melted chocolate over the top of the marshmallows. Sprinkle with graham cracker crumbs.
Delicious warm or when chilled.
Oh my goodness, readers, we are only one week away from Fall Into Romance launching! It's so exciting and I'm thrilled today to have author Stacy Claflin visiting my blog today with her favorite scene from Lost in Romance. USA Today bestselling author Stacy Claflin entertains readers in a variety of genres, from paranormal to suspense to sweet contemporary romance. She has been telling stories for as long as she can remember, and as a child would often get into trouble trying to convince friends her wild tales were true. Now she puts her creativity to better use by writing page-turning books that leave readers begging for more.
The scene she shared is definitely an example of leaving you wanting more. While she didn't give any specific reasons for this scene to be her favorite, I think you'll see why it's so much fun. But first, a little about Lost in Romance:
Work is her life. He’s the boss’s son. Will she risk it all for love?
Alisyn has thrown herself into her job to avoid facing her past. It has been perfect so far. And as a bonus, working as a nanny lets her be part of a family that she adores. Her job is perfect until the day her boss’s grown son comes to town and takes her breath away.
The last place Shane Rockford wants to be is at his dad’s house with his new family. He just wants to survive the trip without losing his mind or his temper. After meeting his dad’s nanny, Shane finds a compelling reason to be in Romance, Oregon—Alisyn Bennett.
Dr. Rockford is furious that Alisyn and Shane are going on a date, and he will stop at nothing to keep them apart. Will Alisyn risk her job–her everything–to be with Shane, or will Shane’s father once again ruin his life?
Shane and Alisyn made their way to the polished wooden skate floor. The way it shone made it look dangerously smooth.
“I’m right here,” Shane reminded her.
Alisyn lost her balance and wobbled forward.
Shane put his hand on her shoulder and squeezed her hand. “Still here.”
“All this, and we haven’t even made it to the rink,” she muttered.
“Don’t be embarrassed. If I hadn’t been in hockey all those years, I’d probably be worse. Think of that—you’d have to hold me up!”
She groaned, thinking of what a mess that would be.
“Come on. Glide the skates onto the floor. You won’t fall. I promise.”
Alisyn held her breath and pushed her left foot forward. It was all she could do not to close her eyes. She remained upright, mostly because of Shane. Then she slid the other foot onto the rink. She gasped in surprise at how quickly the wheels took her.
“See? You’re doing great.”
Miles and Piper flew by them, laughing and poking each other.
Alisyn shook her head. How could a four- and a six-year-old make it look so easy?
“Don’t focus on them.” Shane’s voice was smooth like honey, calming her. “You’re doing great. I’m not the one keeping you up.”
She turned to him and realized he’d let go of her shoulder. Her right skate flew out from under her. The ground moved closer to her at a speed she couldn’t comprehend.
“Whoa!” Shane grabbed onto her arm, but she continued falling. In fact, he was heading for the floor, also. In one big tangled mess, they both landed with a hard thud. Pain ran through her hip, which took most of the impact. She opened her eyes and the first thing she saw was a bunch of cheesy, multi-colored plastic jack-o’-lantern decorations hanging from the ceiling.
She turned to him. “I thought you promised I wouldn’t fall.”
“You caught me off guard!” He threw his head back and laughed.
His laughter was contagious, and she joined him, too amused to be embarrassed.
“Let’s try that again.” He rose and pulled her up. “This time, don’t freak out. Okay?”
“Freak out?” She shoved him. “That was not me freaking out.”
He rubbed his elbow. “Tell that to my bruise.”
She snickered. “I’m sure it isn’t half as bad as the one I’m going to have.”
“Hopefully, those will be the only ones we get tonight.”
Alisyn grimaced. “I wouldn’t hold your breath. If you want to get out of here unscathed, you might want to run.”
He shook his head. “Not a chance. I’m not giving up on you.”
Alisyn’s breath caught. The intensity in his eyes made it seem like his words meant much more than just skating.
This scene just makes me giggle since one of my first dates involved skating (though mine was ice skating) and I was about as proficient as Alisyn. Be sure to preorder if you haven't already and consider joining us for our Facebook launch party (just click the image to go there). We would love to see you (and your furry friends) there!
Have a great weekend, readers!
Happy Friday, readers! And it's the first day of autumn to boot, which brings us just that much closer to the release of Fall Into Romance. Are you excited? I know I am! Today I have Raine English with me to share her favorite scene from her novella, At Second Glance.
USA Today bestselling author Raine English always wanted to be a writer. She began her career as a journalist, but writing romance novels was her passion. Her books have won many awards, including finalling in the Romance Writers of America Golden Heart and winning the Daphne du Maurier Award. When not behind her computer, you can usually find her reading. She lives in New England with her family and two French bulldogs, Bailey and Dolly.
When asked why she picked this particular scene, Raine said, "There’s a lot going on in this scene, and it sets up a couple of major plot points. I love the way Claire and Julian interact with each other over his wanting to adopt Tank. And then there’s the part where Claire sees Gracie with another man and questions whether her sister’s marriage is in trouble."
So what is At Second Glance about? It can be summed up in one sentence:
Can an ornery French bulldog help a mismatched couple find love?
Claire was so glad it wasn’t raining. Whenever you went to an outdoor event in Romance, you ran the risk of getting wet. Luckily, that wouldn’t be the case today at the town festival. It was partly cloudy and cool, but there was no rain in sight.
The event was a big deal, and people were already lined up outside the entry gate, even though it wasn’t due to open for another thirty minutes. The smells coming from the nearby food booths were making her mouth water, and she knew she’d wind up eating more than she should today. Add that to the fact that she overindulged last night when she went out to dinner with Gracie, and there was no doubt that she’d need to go on a diet by the time she headed home. But she considered this time in Oregon a vacation, and she intended to enjoy it.
Claire was happy that Gracie had agreed to come today. She didn’t know how long her sister would stay, but at least she was here and out of the house, even if only for a while. She’d left her at the craft booths, where Gracie had been looking at some handmade jewelry.
The animal adoption station was under a large white tent. Brent had pulled up all the sides in order for there to be a full view of the animals’ kennels. She’d been able to convince him to bring Tank, as long as she promised to keep watch over him. Although he wasn’t near ready to be adopted out, she hated to leave him behind. This would give him the opportunity to be around a large number of people and for her to see how he reacted.
She’d put his kennel at the back of the tent, not wanting to draw attention to him. Tank seemed perfectly content chewing his bone, and as long as Claire sat next to his cage, there was no growling. Brent had a large number of volunteers, all determined to find homes for as many of the animals today as possible, so she was more than willing to take a backseat and let them deal with the public. She’d stay with Tank and make sure all the animals had enough water and that their cages were clean.
Once the gate opened, she settled back in her chair with a hot cup of coffee and watched the parade of people flow by. It didn’t take long for a number of the smaller dogs to get adopted. Even a large hound went to a young couple within the first hour. At this rate, there might not be any dogs left for her to take back to Doggie Town. She glanced over at Tank, who was asleep on his back with all four legs up in the air. His future, though, was yet to be determined. He might not be the easiest dog to find a home for, especially, after she was gone. It was very apparent he needed tons of attention, which wasn’t unusual for the breed. But it took a special kind of person to commit the time required to keep a dog like Tank from developing a whole host of behavioral issues.
Claire was just about to go get a refill on her coffee when a familiar face entered the tent. Her breath hitched in her throat when Julian Barnett’s clear blue eyes locked with hers. He made his way through the crowd that packed the tent to stand in front of her.
“Looks like the Finding Forever booth is the hit of the festival,” he said, flashing her a brilliant smile.
“Rightfully so. These animals deserve to be in good homes, not in kennels.”
His gaze shifted over to Tank, who had flipped over onto his belly and was eyeing Julian with uncertainty. His curled lip was back as was his grumble. “Who’s this guy?” he asked, placing his hand on the top of Tank’s cage. Big mistake, as the dog leapt up and let loose a full-out snarl.
He quickly pulled back his hand. “Are all the dogs this friendly?”
“Tank has some emotional issues.”
“I can see that,” he said with quiet emphasis.
“He was given up by his family just the other day, so it’s going to take him some time to get over losing his home,” Claire replied, sticking her hand in the kennel so that Tank could lick it.
“He likes you well enough.”
“It’s a case of understanding the breed. Frenchies need lots of love and attention. They’re not the kind of dog you can leave home alone all day. If you do, you’ll find that they can become very destructive.”
“I want to adopt him.”
Claire’s brows shot up “What? As you can see, he’s not ready for adoption, and I haven’t even given him a temperament test yet.”
“I don’t care about that. I’ve already seen what his temperament is.”
“T-today’s not a true indication of what his true temperament is,” she stuttered, completely at a loss as to why Julian would want Tank. “Look!” She pointed to the other kennels. “There are plenty of dogs you can adopt. Just not this one.”
“But that’s the one I want.”
“Why?” she asked, not trying in the least to keep her annoyance from showing.
“It’s obvious he needs to be with someone who can give him lots of affection. You said that yourself. I can do that. I can even take him to work with me. I’ll bet with your help, before long Tank and I will be great buddies.”
Claire’s jaw dropped open. “What do you mean, with my help?”
“I want to hire you to help me work with Tank.”
Claire’s face grew hot, and her temper was rising. She made a concerted effort to keep her voice low. “This isn’t about what you want. It’s about what’s best for the dog.”
“And you don’t think I can provide a good home?”
“I didn’t say that.”
“Then what did you say?”
“Look, Tank’s not ready to go anywhere yet. He needs lots of work.”
“Exactly why I want to hire you. Why should Tank have to spend more time in a cage when he can have the run of my house? I’ll bet that’ll make him feel better in no time. Besides, there’s no one there but me. And if he bites me, I take full responsibility.”
“I don’t want him biting anyone. Not even you.”
“I’m glad to hear that your feelings for me are improving.”
For the first time in ages, Claire was at a loss for words. Julian Barnett was the most incorrigible man she’d ever met.
Unfortunately, this was the moment that Brent decided to come over to say hello. “Hey, Julian! How are you? Looking to adopt today?”
Julian’s glance shot from Brent over to Claire and then back to Brent. “As a matter of fact, I am.”
“Fantastic. I’ve got a great lab mix over here.”
But as Brent started to walk across the tent, Julian stopped him by saying, “I’ve been talking to Claire about adopting Tank.”
Brent ran a hand through his hair. “And what did she say?”
“That Tank needs a temperament test first, but I really don’t care about that. I want to hire Claire to help with the dog’s adjustment to me and my home.”
To Claire’s horror, Brent grinned. “That’s great. I was worried about being able to place Tank, but this seems like the perfect solution.” Brent turned to her. “Thanks so much for agreeing to do that.”
Claire opened her mouth to protest, but snapped it shut as she thought better of it. This wasn’t the time or place to get into an argument. Best to wait until later to voice her objections. But then things went from bad to worse when Brent and Julian went over to the table and began doing up the adoption papers. A few minutes later, they were back.
“Since you’re not going to be in Romance that long, why don’t you do the temperament test tomorrow, Claire? And if all goes well, you can bring Tank over to Julian’s and begin training. How does that sound?” Brent asked.
“Fine,” she replied through gritted teeth.
“How’s one o’clock?” Julian asked, looking like the cat who’d just swallowed the canary.
“That’s fine too,” Claire replied, shooting him a tight-lipped smile.
“Good! You know how to get to the Barnett Winery?”
“Of course,” she said sourly.
“My parents’ house is right next door. Mine is next to that. It’s the tan one-level home. You can’t miss it. Well, guess I better get back to my booth.” Before he left, he leaned toward Tank’s kennel. The dog let out a low growl. “See you tomorrow. Before long, we’re going to be great buddies.” Julian whistled a happy tune as he walked away.
Claire wished she felt as confident that Tank would bond with him, but right now, she had no way of knowing if that would happen. All she could do was hope and make sure that she did all that she could to integrate the dog into Julian’s home.
The crowd in the booth had thinned a little, so she went to Nicole and said, “I’m going to take a quick break and go grab something to eat. Will you keep an eye on Tank?” What Claire really needed was to walk off some of this stress.
“Sure.” She set down the clipboard she’d been holding and stuck her hand into her pant pocket, pulling out a five-dollar bill. “Would you mind stopping at the doughnut booth on your way back and getting me an apple caramel one?”
“Of course, and I don’t need your money. It’s on me. My thanks for watching the grumbler while I’m gone.”
“Claire, you don’t have to do that. Here, take it.” She held out her hand, but Claire pushed it away.
“I’ll see you in a bit.” She wound through a crowd of people watching a pumpkin-pie baking contest and wondered if Gracie was in among them. It would be nice to have lunch with her. Having company might help to take her mind off Tank’s adoption to Julian Barnett.
She found an empty spot next to the photo booth and took her cell phone out of her pocket, but as she began dialing her sister, she caught a glimpse of hot pink—the same color as the shirt Gracie had on—and turned her attention to a couple about twelve feet away. She quickly hung up her phone. It was Gracie, and she was with a very attractive man. Claire recognized Tim Hayden as one of the guys her sister used to date back in high school. He didn’t look much different from the prom picture she’d seen of him last night that Gracie had on the bedroom floor.
A huge, painful knot twisted inside her. They were standing awfully close together, and Gracie’s face held an expression that Claire hadn’t seen since they were young. It was full of life, and she looked exactly like that beautiful teenager everyone in Romance had adored.
She quickly looked away as a heaviness settled in her chest. Was Gracie’s marriage in trouble? Was that what had been bothering her? She prayed that wasn’t the case, but from what she’d just seen, it appeared likely that it might very well be.
Could this day get any worse, she thought as she headed over to the doughnut booth. What should have been a perfect Saturday, had turned out to be anything but… “I’ll have two apple caramel doughnuts,” she said to the heavy-set man working the booth. What the heck. Her diet had been shot the moment she set foot in Romance.
Poor Claire sounds like she's got her work cut out for her! Have you ever found yourself cornered into doing something you really didn't want to?
Oh my goodness, readers, do you ever have one of those days where you have a million things to do and you get literally zero accomplished? That was my day yesterday, so here we are on Saturday having our Fall Into Romance interview because yesterday was just not happening. But I'm so excited to have author Tamie Dearen with us today to share her favorite scene from Restoring Romance. I've had the privilege of reading this one and it is such a fun story!
First, let's learn a little about Tamie. Tamie Dearen lives in Texas with her very romantic husband—the inspiration for her romance heroes. They have two beautiful daughters, both of whom are happily married, and they’ve been blessed with two awesome grandsons. A dentist in private practice for thirty years, Tamie plays a variety of musical instruments and spends every available spare minute writing books.
Sounds fun and busy! As I said earlier, I really loved reading Restoring Romance and one of my favorite scenes is the one Tamie is sharing with us today. Of it, she said, "Adam spies a new girl in town—one who’s very attractive—at the pet adoption tent, with a cat in her arms. Adam, who is terribly allergic to cats, rushes over to intervene, taking with him a humongous mutt dog to offer as a substitute."
Curious to know more about Restoring Romance?
She’s a big city chef who likes cats. He’s a small town mayor who restores antiques. But even with feline allergies at play, true love is nothing to sneeze at.
When Ash Hendrix moves into her aunt’s historic home in Romance, Oregon, she’s ready to bring New York City style to the sleepy little town. But her dream of remodeling the old home into a stylish restaurant is cut short when the mayor interferes. Her opposite in every way, the infuriating Adam is the last man she could ever be attracted to. So why can’t she stop thinking about him?
Mayor Adam Walker can’t believe the cute blond he met at the festival is the woman who’s trying to destroy his family’s legacy. Initially intent on shutting down her plans, he’s shocked to find himself wanting to fulfill them, instead. But she doesn’t trust him. And why would she, with her traumatic past and his earlier antagonism?
Can these two opposites find happily-ever-after? Not without a little help from their friends and family… and a can of pink paint.
“You’re not planning to adopt that cat, are you?” Adam asked.
“As a matter of fact, I am. Why shouldn’t I?” She lifted her chin, somehow managing to look down her nose at him while he towered over her. It was so adorable, he couldn’t help smiling.
“You might want to consider other options… better options… A dog, perhaps?” Adam swept his arm back in a grand gesture toward Kujo. “Perhaps this cute guy—he could be a companion and provide protection from… from criminals.”
Her plump kissable lips made a surprised O. “Is there a lot of crime, here?”
“Mmm… not usually, but you never know. Just to be on the safe side, you should consider getting a watch dog.”
Kujo let out a deep woof that rattled Adam’s ribcage, and the cat shrieked, struggling in the girl’s arms. She edged away a few steps.
“I think I need protection from that monster, not by him. Anyway, I’m happy with my choice.”
“Why would you want a cat when you could have a dog? Dogs are so much better.”
“I like cats.” Her eyes narrowed to angry blue slits.
Adam knew he wasn’t making a good first impression, but he figured he could make up for it later. After he prevented this disastrous adoption. Desperate times—desperate measures.
“But a dog loves you, while a cat merely tolerates your existence as a slave.”
“Dogs slobber on your clothes and chew up your shoes.”
“Cats scratch your furniture and spit up hairballs.”
“Dogs lick their private parts and then lick your mouth.”
Hmmm… she had a point. What else could he say to convince her? “I didn’t want to tell you, but this is the last chance for Kujo. He has to find a home today, or they’ll put him down tomorrow.”
He regretted his hasty words the instant tears puddled in her round eyes. Her lip trembled as she stuttered, “I… I still can’t…”
“Adam Walker! Why are you lying to Ash about Kujo?” Erin Walker appeared out of nowhere, waving a finger in his face, and he stepped back in the wake of her fury. Kujo added another deafening bark and the cat howled. Her finger moved down to poke against his chest. “You know good and well Brent would never put an animal down. That’s the whole point of the Finding Forever Animal Rescue.”
“I was only teasing.” He lifted his palms in supplication.
“Ash, I apologize for my brother-in-law’s behavior. There’s no excuse for him.” Erin scowled, her hands on her hips, and Ash matched her angry expression.
“It was just a joke, Erin. Give me a break. I’ll make it up to you.”
Erin crossed her arms as an evil smile slid onto her face.
Oh no! What have I done?
Erin whispered something in Ash’s ear, something that made her press her lips together, as if she were trying not to laugh.
“I suppose, we might be persuaded to forgive you…” Erin opened her eyes wide and blinked rapidly, adopting an innocent tone. “Yes, I think we could forgive you if you adopted Kujo. After all, he’s been looking for a home for a long time.”
“Wait a minute, Erin…”
“Why wouldn’t you adopt Kujo?” Ash stepped closer, glaring up at him, the cat still in her arms. “Weren’t you telling me what a good idea it would be to adopt him. Why not do it yourself?”
Adam let out a violent sneeze.
“Bless you.” Erin and Ash said in unison.
“I don’t need a dog.” He rubbed his itchy eyes on his sleeve. “And besides, who could afford to feed this guy. He weighs more than me.”
Erin made a tsking noise. “You should have thought of that before you got Kujo’s hopes up.”
His sister-in-law was a python, and Adam was her helpless prey. The coils squeezed around his neck. He couldn’t speak.
Erin strode away, calling over her shoulder, “I’ll go get the adoption papers.”
I hope you enjoyed this scene as much as I did. I was torn between feeling sorry for Adam and laughing because he got just what he deserved. Have you ever played a joke that backfired on you?
Just under three weeks until release day! We're excited to share this fun set with you!
It's been a long time since I used my blog for a rant, but I've been letting this one boil under my skin for too long and it's time to let it out. This is not directed at a single person, though there are parts that probably sound like they are, but rather a group of people who seem to think it's okay to get snarky when a parent complains about having a rough day.
Let me give you a quick word of advice: keep your snark monster to yourself.
Look, I get it. Those of you who are older and "wiser" parents might think you've got lots of great advice for the struggling parent. And sometimes you do give great advice. But there is a time and a place to give advice and there's a time to just keep quiet. Or at least pretend to be sympathetic. Those of you who don't have children might see that complaint and think to yourselves, "What did you think would happen when you had that baby?" Or you might just not realize that sometimes parenting is rough. However, whether you are an older parent, childless, or also a younger parent, it is never okay to get snarky with a struggling parent. Ever. And really, let's extend this to it's just not okay to get snarky with someone who is struggling, no matter how small the struggle may seem to you.
It might be tempting when you see that parent who always seems to complain about her children being out of control to say something about discipline. But unless she asked for your advice, do not give it. The reality is: she probably does discipline her children. But guess what? Children sometimes misbehave no matter what type of discipline program you use. That young parent might still be trying to find what works for her children. And with the sheer number of mommy blogs claiming to have the perfect solution to any parenting problem, finding what works can be surprisingly difficult. Or, she might have a system that normally works great for her children and they're just having a bad day. Don't make her day worse by giving her some snarky comment. She doesn't need to hear, "Oh, it only gets worse" or "Someday you'll miss this" or "Enjoy this while you can" or any other mix of those messages. Oh, and for those who are childless, this is absolutely not the time to say, "This is why I don't have children." What she needs to hear is, "I'm sorry you're having a rough day" or "This too shall pass" or "Hang in there, mama, you're doing fine."
Yesterday, I was that struggling mom. My kiddos were bouncing-off-the-walls crazy. I normally don't like to complain on Facebook, in part because I get really sick of the snark monsters showing up on my posts. But yesterday, they were so awful, I wanted to be able to vent. Even just a little bit and release some of that steam. And I was trying to lighten my own mood and situation by reminding myself that as bad as my children were being in that moment, they aren't always like that. So I let my Facebook friends know that my children were driving me crazy and were about to discover that early bedtime is a thing. The first two comments were what I needed. Another mom was struggling with her rowdy kiddos too and agreed that early bedtime sounded like a great plan. The next let me know that I was doing fine and my kiddos loved me. Trust me, I needed that reminder. Because right then I was questioning that.
Then the next comment implied that early bedtime would only work for as long as my children couldn't tell time and to enjoy being able to do that while I can.
Let me tell you what, I got mad. My day was already in shambles and I was not in a good mood. Having someone imply that I would stoop to tricking my children into thinking it actually was bedtime incensed me further. For one, I'm too dang lazy to change every clock in my house because seriously, do you realize how many clocks I have in my house between appliances, actual clocks, and media devices? For two, my oldest already can tell time, both on a digital display and a regular, twelve-hour clock. So, attempting to tell him, "Oh it's bedtime" isn't going to work. And for three, deceiving my children about the time in an effort to get them to bed early completely misses the point of, "You're in trouble and as punishment, you are now going to bed."
So, I'll be honest, I let my own snark monster out a bit and replied that deception wasn't the aim and my children were going to know they were going to bed early because they were in trouble.
And the commenter didn't get the hint to drop it. No, they had to come back and respond that putting children to bed early more often punishes the parents than the children.
Seriously? At that point, I knew this blog post would be written, but I waited overnight so I could allow at least some of my anger to melt off. Parenting can be punishing at times. I can agree to that. But you have no right whatsoever to question how I discipline my children. None. I don't really care what worked for you or your children because you are not me and your children are not my children. Let me tell you, there was weeping and wailing at my house when the kiddos realized I was serious about them going to bed early. And it was not me weeping and wailing. They were losing out on playtime and they knew it. They were missing out on dessert and they knew it. They were missing out on seeing Daddy get home from the football game. And they knew it. For my children, going to bed early as a punishment works. Do they end up waking earlier because of it? Sometimes yes, this time no. Would that work for every child? No, obviously it wouldn't. Some children would consider going to bed early a treat. And some children just wouldn't care. But for my children, this solution worked. Do I think it will work forever? No, I don't. But I'm not a one-trick parenting pony. I have many tools in my parenting arsenal and this is just one of them. One that I use only when I'm about to completely and totally lose my mind.
There is enough judgement in our world without adding to it. In fact, there is way too much judgement going around in our world. Social media is like a judgement breeding ground. Rather than adding fuel to that raging wildfire by getting snarky, can't you just keep it to yourself? I can't stop you from thinking it, and I honestly wouldn't try to. Your thoughts and opinions are your own and that's fine. However, just because it comes into your head doesn't mean it should come out of your mouth or through your fingers online.
So please, keep your snark monster to yourself. I don't need him running amok on my Facebook. If you need to, go watch Bambi and listen to Thumper. "If you can't say nothin' nice, don't say nothin' at all."
Anyone else feel like time just keeps speeding up on them? It's Friday and this week I have the delightful Melanie D. Snitker on my blog with her contribution to Fall Into Romance, Finding Forever in Romance. Melanie has enjoyed writing for as long as she can remember. She started out creating episodes of cartoon shows that she wanted to see as a child and her love of writing grew from there. She and her husband live in Texas with their two children who keep their lives full of adventure, and two dogs who add a dash of mischief to the family dynamics. In her spare time, Melanie enjoys photography, reading, crochet, baking, camping, and hanging out with family and friends.
In our boxed set, Melanie's story is the one that sets the stage for the rest of us. It is in Finding Forever in Romance we learn more about the animal shelter and the people who run it. Curious to know more?
From the time he was a child, Brent Todd has helped lost pets find healing and homes. Now, he runs Romance's Finding Forever Animal Rescue. Amid the dogs, cats, donkeys, goats, and exotic animals in his care, he convinces himself he has everything he needs. Then a beautiful woman and her son volunteer to help at the shelter. Brent soon realizes he needs more than the rescue animals to fill the empty spaces in his heart and home.
Dedicated to raising her son, Nicole Crawford views romance as a lovely idea. But between being a single mom and the pain of her past, she refuses to dwell on something so out of reach. To teach her son about helping others, they volunteer at Finding Forever on a temporary basis. But the more time she spends with Brent, the more she realizes it'll be impossible to walk away from him and the shelter with her heart intact. Together, maybe Brent and Nicole will discover a forever family of their own.
The scene we have today isn't at the shelter, but showcases Nicole's workplace. Melanie said of this scene, "This takes place at Romance’s local roller skating rink. Nicole works there and Brent decided to go to the family skate night, hoping for an opportunity to spend some time with her. He’s been skating for a while as he waited for Nicole to get a break from working the front counter.
"My brothers and I were homeschooled and when we were teens, one of the monthly activities was roller skating. We looked forward to it each time. They’d play our favorite songs and we’d laugh, visit with friends, and sing along. I also played roller hockey with a homeschool team and later in college with a small-time league. When I wrote this scene, it made me smile and brought back all those happy memories. My husband and I now homeschool our children, and our local group has roller skating every week. I still strap on a pair of inline skates and get on the rink with my kids from time to time."
And now for our scene:
Brent checked the time. With over a half hour until Nicole would get a breather, he decided he’d better sit down for a while. Otherwise, he’d be done before he even got a chance to spend time with her. He found a spot at one of the few picnic-style tables on one end and enjoyed watching all the people skate, laugh, and visit.
A while later, a shadow fell on him and stopped. Nicole stood in front of him, hands on her hips and inline skates on her feet. “I’m surprised you’re still here.”
Brent shrugged. “Sometimes I don’t know when to quit.” He gave her a pointed stare and was satisfied to see pink creep up her neck and into her face. “You’ve been working hard.”
She glanced over at the front desk. “The hardest part of my evening is over. Natalie will keep an eye on the front counter for the rest of the evening. Now I just need to stay awake.”
“If there are no more people coming in, what do you do for the rest of the evening?”
“I’m mostly a chaperone. Concessions and the skate counter are manned by other people.” She pointed toward the DJ. “And I could only choose the music once before getting kicked out of that spot.” They laughed. “I usually end up skating for a while and visiting with people. But yeah, Friday nights are long ones by the time we clean up and close.”
“So, if I head back onto the rink, I might run into you out there?” He crossed his arms in front of him, well aware he’d presented a dare.
She shrugged but couldn’t quite keep the amusement from her face. “Maybe.”
The DJ put on the original Ghostbusters song and most of the people on the rink cheered and sang along. Brent laughed. “I haven’t heard that one in ages.”
“Trust me, if you stick around here in the evenings, you’ll hear many songs from your childhood.”
Brent stood and skated onto the rink, happy to see Nicole was right behind him. They joined the crowd and skated side-by-side for a while. Ten minutes later, the DJ announced it was now couples only, and you had to be holding hands to stay on the rink.
A lot of people found a partner to skate with whether it was a parent, sibling, friend, or spouse. Brent held a hand out to Nicole. “Don’t leave me out here all by myself.” He winked.
She shook her head at him as if she didn’t quite know what to do with him before sliding her hand into his. The surrounding air had chilled her skin as they’d skated, and he liked the idea of warming it back up again. He laced their fingers together and gave her hand a squeeze. This felt right; as if her hand belonged in his.
They skated past the tables as Tony took a seat at one of them. “I take it your son isn’t a fan of couple’s skate.”
Nicole laughed at that and seemed relieved to have something else to focus on. “Oh, no. He’s at the age where the thought of participating in any way may as well signal the end of life as we know it.”
Brent chuckled. “I remember those days.”
“Yep, I’m fine with them. I’m not ready for him to grow up yet. Girlfriends, jobs, etc. I want to hold onto my boy a little longer if I can.”
They made their way around the rink as Brent studied her profile. “I’m surprised there aren’t guys lined up waiting to skate with you tonight.”
Nicole noticeably picked up the pace and seemed to look anywhere else but him. He’d assumed she was still single. What if that wasn’t the case? The thought of anyone else out here holding her hand caused a mix of protectiveness and jealousy to rise in his chest. When Nicole said nothing, he tugged on her hand just enough to slow her down. She glanced at him.
Brent had to know, even if roller skating might not be the most appropriate place to ask. “Are you seeing anyone?”
She gave her head a little shake. “No.”
Who knew one little word could inspire such a sense of relief? He flashed her a smile. “Good.”
Such fun! Did you ever have to work at getting someone to date you?
If you've been following my blog for a while, you'll already know that this week's author is one of my favorites. She's a talented writer, a wonderful friend, and about the sweetest and most encouraging woman you could hope to meet. Yes, I'm talking about the fabulous Shanna Hatfield. This week she's joining me to share her favorite scene from her contribution to the Fall Into Romance set, Blown Into Romance. A little about her:
After spending her formative years on a farm in Eastern Oregon, hopeless romantic Shanna Hatfield turns her rural experiences into sweet historical and contemporary romances filled with sarcasm, humor, and hunky heroes.
When this USA Today bestselling author isn’t writing or covertly hiding decadent chocolate from the other occupants of her home, Shanna hangs out with her beloved husband, Captain Cavedweller.
Shanna loves to hear from readers. Follow her online at:
ShannaHatfield | Facebook | Newsletter | BookBub | Pinterest |
The scene she shared is both hilarious and sweet. She says of it, "I like this scene for a number of reasons. It shows how desperate Brooke is for help. She's used to taking care of everything herself so for her to call someone and ask for help is huge. I like the humor element. I mean, what would you do if you came home and found three little piglets had escaped their confines and were running loose in your house (or business full of breakable glass objects)? It also illustrates Blayne's character to perfection. He doesn't ask people "why do you need my help?" Instead, he jumps in to lend a hand. Oh, and let's not forget the hint of romance. Even though they just met, you get a clear idea that Brooke is interested in Blayne, at least that deep, gravelly voice of his. "
Curious about the story? Artist Brooke Roberts spent her life without roots, wandering from town to town. When she seeks refuge from a freak storm in the town of Romance, she decides to stay and open a blown glass studio. Determined to immerse herself in the community, she adopts a family of pigs. Brooke is unprepared for the chaos and comfort they bring to her world, or the dashing cowboy who rescues her heart.
Solid, dependable Blayne Grundy runs a busy ranch, volunteers on various committees, and takes in stray animals too large to stay at the local animal rescue. Then a chance encounter with a beautiful, beguiling woman leaves him so befuddled, he can barely remember his own name. His predictable organized life is about to be blown away by free-spirited Brooke.
A sweet, lighthearted novella, Blown Into Romance highlights the mighty power of love and letting go.
And now, let's go see what Brooke needs help with...
She opened the back door and stepped inside, listening to squeals and unhappy oinks emanating from the pig room.
“I’m coming, Winnie,” she called, racing to the room. Much to her dismay, she found only Winnie and little Roo in the room. The three boys had edged away the piece of plywood she’d used to block the doorway and escaped.
“Oh, this is bad,” she said, tossing down her purse and searching for the missing piglets. She found Eeyore curled up on her shop apron, taking a nap. Robin had somehow climbed into a box of labels and whined in protest when she lifted him out.
“You need to stay out of places you shouldn’t be, Robin,” she admonished the pig as she set him back in the room with his mother. “Where’s Tigger?” she asked, wishing he’d magically appear.
An hour later, she still hadn’t found the piglet. She’d searched every inch of her workshop as well as the front of the store. She’d crawled around her apartment, looking under furniture, in her closet, even beneath her bed.
Frantic, out of patience, and uncertain what to do, she riffled through her junk drawer, desperate to find Blayne’s card. Finally locating it in a stack of junk mail she hadn’t opened, she dialed his number and waited. And waited.
On the fourth ring, he answered.
If she hadn’t been on the verge of hysteria about her pigs, that deep gravelly tone might have sent her into an entirely different sort of fit, one that would have turned her limbs languid and brain to mush. As it was, though, she had more important problems than the way her body and soul ached to react to his voice.
“Blayne?” she asked, completely aware she spoke to him. No one else could make her knees turn to a gelatinous mass just by uttering a simple greeting.
“Yes,” he said, sounding cautious.
“This is Brooke. Brooke Roberts. We met yesterday at the festival and you helped me bring home my pigs.”
“How are the little oinkers?” he asked, a smile evident in his voice.
“Horrible!” Brooke took a deep breath to keep her tears at bay. “I went to the feed store to buy food and the woman there kept trying to sell me stuff for a cat. The guy at the pet store told me to go the feed store. If I go back there, I might just smack the woman into next week if she tells me I need catnip again. I came home to find the pigs had escaped and I can’t find Tigger. I’m a terrible adoptive parent! Maybe I should send them back to Brent or someone who doesn’t lose baby pigs. Winnie’s starving and I don’t know what to do.” She rambled. “I don’t know why I called you, but I’m just… I’m at…”
Rather than ask her questions, tell her to calm down, or laugh at her, he simply said, “I’m on my way.”
Poor Brooke! Have your pets ever gotten into mischief you couldn't solve on your own?
Only about a month until Fall Into Romance releases! Preorder now for a great deal on a fun, romantic set.
It's Friday! This week my dear friend, Franky A. Brown, is joining me to talk about her contribution to our Fall Into Romance boxed set, Wired for Romance. Franky has always called the South home and loves to write about it. She holds an English degree from the University of South Carolina and can’t seem to stop reading. She is the author of chick lit, humor, and romantic comedy about life, love, and Southern women. She also writes a gluten-free recipe blog, Julia and Me, Gluten-free.
When asked to share a little about her story and why she picked this particular scene, she said, "My novella ,Wired for Romance is about a therapist, Audrey, who hires an electrician, Josh, who happens to be her client's ex-boyfriend. Sparks fly and it becomes an issue because Josh doesn't know Audrey is working with his ex-girlfriend who has told her numerous unpleasant things about him. I loved writing this scene because of the element of suspense mixed with humor. Audrey has sprained her ankle and is feeling a little out-of-it from pain medication. Josh has taken her new dog Toby home with him to give her time to rest. So Audrey is home, alone, in a house with no electricity. It's something I can relate to. It's easy to become acutely aware of every sound when one is alone in a dark house...and if there is something I know for sure, is how loopy a shot of pain medication can make me."
Curious to know more?
He can rewire her house, but he can’t do a thing about the electricity sparking between them… Therapist Audrey Foster thought helping a difficult client through a breakup would be a challenge, but things get out of hand when the electrician she hires is the client's horrible ex-boyfriend.
Electrician Josh Chadwick needs a big job to pay off some debt and get his mind off women. Rewiring Audrey's house seems perfect, until he finds himself heavily distracted by everything about her, and wondering why she asks so many strange questions. How can Audrey stay professional when she knows so many dark secrets about Josh? And how can Josh convince Audrey, he’s not a bad catch after all?
And now for the fun part:
A loud, deep scream outside made her jump and she tightened the grip on her phone. What on earth was that sound? She clung to her pillow and struggled to breathe. Was someone being murdered outside her house? Was an animal dying?
She punched through her contacts with trembling hands and clicked to call Rob.
She brought the phone to her ear as a groggy voice answered. “Hello?”
“Rob! Oh my gosh, someone or something is outside. There was this horrible scream and this growling…and Toby isn’t here. Not that he’d be able to rescue me from something like that, but it’d at least help if he was here…” Her voice turned into a high pitch and she squeezed her eyes shut. “What if it’s Sasquatch?”
“I’ll be right there, okay?” The phone signal was breaking up. “And I’ll bring Toby.”
“Toby? Rob, is this you?” There was no answer and the call dropped. Then she looked at the screen and realized she’d called Josh. She really had thought she’d hit Rob’s number. “Well, this is the last time I let them give me a shot of painkiller then watch Bigfoot hunters in the dark.”
Okay, so Josh would come to her rescue. It may be embarrassing, but at least she’d get Toby back. It was probably nothing to worry about. Maybe kids were playing early Halloween pranks or something.
The growling noise sounded outside again, and she felt her heart pound nearly audibly. She pulled herself up and took a deep breath. She needed to figure this out. Limping once again toward the kitchen with her flashlight, she gulped and opened the wide blinds on the window.
There was nothing but grass, leaves, and that old white oak tree in the back yard. Behind her fence was a line of trees. Nothing was out there. She shined the flashlight back and forth and sighed. “Everything’s fine. So what was that horrific noise?”
Then the growling sound was back, sounding like it was right by the window. She thought she saw something moving, and she turned her flashlight off to see if she could see better without the glare from the window.
The growling became louder and something inside the oak tree rattled a branch, shaking more leaves out. Something was in the tree.
Then a pair of legs dropped down from the tree. Furry feet dangled in the air and the growling noise seemed louder every second. She squealed and covered her mouth with both hands, dropping back against the wall. Something was in her back yard. In her tree. Growling fiercely. Did Sasquatch growl? Did he climb trees? He certainly had two furry feet.
She dialed Josh again and he answered on the first ring. “I need my dog.”
“On the way right now, are you okay?”
“No, I’m not okay. I need help,” she whispered sharply. “There’s something big and furry and growling in my tree.”
“Animal or human? I’m almost there.”
“If it’s human it’s incredibly hairy. But that growling sound isn’t human.” Audrey clenched the phone tighter and hugged herself with her free arm. “I can’t believe I’m saying this right now. The feet dropped down from the tree and looked furry. Aren’t you the expert on this subject?”
“What kind of animal has two legs, climbs trees, and growls? Do Bigfoots climb trees?”
“Say what? Look, hang tight. I’m about to pull into your driveway.”
“Bring me my dog!”
“Don’t hang up, okay?”
“Okay.” It felt like an eternity as she sat against the wall in the dark, hearing her heart pound in her ears. In reality, only a few minutes passed before she heard Toby’s deep bark outside and she hung up the call. She looked outside again and spied one of the large branches rattling, and a furry-looking human figure leaped from the tree to the top of the side fence, then swung over it to the tree cover on the other side. She blinked, heart stopping.
Next she saw Toby running across the yard to the fence where the creature disappeared and Josh followed.
Then something small and furry jumped out of the tree and ran across the top of the wooden fence. It stopped and growled down at Toby.
Curiosity finally won over her fear, and she hurried as best she could with a sore foot to the back door and pulled it open.
“Toby, it’s okay,” Josh said and gave Toby a head rub, but he didn’t stop barking. The furry thing on the fence disappeared.
“I think I just saw a Sasquatch…” She stood frozen in place on the patio.
Josh walked toward her while Toby continued to bark. “Come on, Toby!” He stopped in front of her and studied her a moment. “Yeah…it was actually a ’possum. A rather angry one.””
“Are you serious? But what was that big animal that ran off?”
“What big animal? ’Possums make a variety of different sounds, it was probably in your tree.”
Her lip started to quiver. “Something on two legs, the size of a man. He was…furry…the feet were furry…”
“There was a man back here? We should call the police.”
“I told you, I think I saw Sasquatch!” Audrey covered her face with both hands, humiliation washing over her. Oh my gosh, I’ve lost my mind.
Josh paused for a moment and pulled her hands from her face. “Are you okay?”
“That scared me to death.” Audrey took in a shaky breath. “You didn’t see anything at all?”
“Just a ’possum.” He spoke slowly. “Do you really think it was a Sasquatch?”
She shook her head, now questioning everything. “To be honest, they gave me a shot at the ER for pain, and then I was watching videos in the dark…and it’s pretty late.”
“Were you watching ghost stories?”
She felt her face warming all over and knew she was turning red. “I may have caught a little of a Bigfoot reality show.” The last part was almost a whisper.
Josh pulled her into his arms and hugged her. She was a little surprised by the hug, but more surprised by how much she didn’t want him to let go of her. She held him and took in several deep breaths.
“It’s okay, whatever it was is gone.” Josh’s words were so tender, his lips were so nearby. She looked into his eyes and wanted to give in to his spell.
Then Toby wedged himself between their legs and they stepped apart. “Toby, you came to save me.” Audrey rubbed his ears and hugged her four-legged friend.
“But I do think we should call the police. There may be someone creeping around the neighborhood.”
She nodded. “Yes, you’re right. It could have been a prowler.”
Audrey continued to pet Toby. She desperately needed the distraction from the tingling sensations running through her body. The way she was feeling toward Josh was not at all appropriate for someone she depended on to restore her electricity, or for a new friend. And if he was Carly’s ex-boyfriend who believed in Bigfoot, she’d allowed herself to briefly buy into the myth and he would probably like that about her. But if it wasn’t, and if he didn’t really believe in the story, maybe he thought she was a therapist in need of serious therapy.
If you enjoyed this snippet, be sure to preorder your copy of Fall Into Romance so you'll be able to enjoy this story and the others the moment it becomes available.
Jessica L. Elliott
Author, artist, mom and super-genius