It’s Release Day for The Search for Sam!

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Today’s not just Tuesday, it’s the book birthday for my latest historical romance, The Search for Sam, part of the Enduring Legacy series! For the next month it will be available to buy on all platforms, possibly going into Kindle Unlimited after that. If you’ve forgotten what it’s all about (I know it’s been a while), here’s a reminder and another little excerpt.

Tilly Dallas and her grandmother Delphine live a quiet life creating herbal medicines and helping neighbors with their gift of Empathy, until Sam Beauvoir goes missing, the latest victim in a string of children’s disappearances.

Jacob Pierce, a talented detective tasked with finding the person behind these kidnappings, refuses to give up hope that he will be able to bring the children home alive. To do that, he’ll need Tilly’s help to convince the families of the missing children to trust him. 

Searching for Sam draws Jacob and Tilly closer, but she finds it hard to hide her power from him and harder still to admit her feelings. She’ll have to embrace a new power in the wake of tragedy if they want to find Sam and the other missing children before witch hunters succeed in putting an end to the legacy of another member of the Dalais family.

The Legacy’s Origin is still available for free on Amazon, so you can read a little more about the original Dalais siblings before you read my book. It’s really good, if a heartbreaker.


It seemed like no time had passed at all when Tilly was suddenly woken up by a knock at her door. She opened her eyes slowly and sat up with a yawn, then rubbed her face. It was no surprise that her hands came back with black streaks on them from her makeup, and she sighed when she turned to see similar marks on her pillow. As tired as she had been the night before, she should have at least used some cold cream before she got in bed.

“Come in,” she said. Her grandmother walked in with a breakfast tray, a smile on her face. Immediately Tilly could feel that it wasn’t entirely genuine and she tried to shrink away from the sudden surge of emotion. It was completely unsettling, this new power she had to feel other peoples’ emotions, but she couldn’t stop her grandmother’s worry and fear from crashing into her.

“Good morning, my darling,” Delphine Dallas said. “I thought perhaps you would like some breakfast in bed. I made your favorite, crepes with strawberries and cream.” She set the tray on Tilly’s lap and went to the window, where the curtains were drawn. She swept them open and Tilly put a hand over her eyes.

“What time is it?”

“It’s almost afternoon,” Delphine said. “I let you sleep in, you seemed to have needed it.”

“Thank you,” Tilly said, her eyes adjusting to the brightness. It wasn’t the first time she’d come in late, but her grandmother usually woke her up at the crack of dawn anyway to help tend the plants and pick herbs. She picked up her fork and knife and went to work on the crepes, even though her stomach was turning from the night before. Not just from her indulgences, she felt hungover from the sudden blast of a hundred personalities at once. She felt drained, as if she could go back to sleep and spend the rest of the day in bed. Delphine came to her bedside and sat down so she was facing Tilly.

“Tell me what happened last night. You looked as if you’d had an awful scare.”

Tilly took her time cutting off a piece of crepe and putting it in her mouth. She chewed it far more than necessary, avoiding her grandmother’s gaze as she did. When she couldn’t avoid it any longer, she looked up at her. She could feel that Delphine wouldn’t leave her alone until she told her what had happened so she took a deep breath.

“I was at a club, and a man asked me to go outside with him. When I did, he tried to hurt me.” She pushed a strawberry around her plate. “There was something strange, too. He said his family name used to be Friseal, as if it was supposed to frighten me. I don’t know anyone with that name, though. And he had engraving on his lighter that he said was his coat of arms. Do you know anything about that?” Now it was Delphine’s turn to look evasive and Tilly could feel indecision radiating from her. “Grandame,” she said as calmly as possible, “I can feel that you’re not telling me something.”

“You can?” Delphine turned to Tilly and met her gaze with her clear blue eyes. “I was waiting for something like this to happen. It doesn’t usually take this long, though.”

“What doesn’t?” Tilly looked confused and her grandmother reached out to touch her face, then unbuttoned her high-necked collar and pulled it aside. She turned her back to Tilly, and the girl frowned. At first she wasn’t sure what Delphine wanted her to see, but there was only one thing it could be. On the back of her left shoulder was a strawberry birthmark, round with a point on the lower left corner. Automatically Tilly’s hand went to the back of her own left shoulder. She’d seen the same mark on her own body all her life, but she’d never known her grandmother had the same one.

“Centuries ago our ancestors had three children. Each one had a birthmark similar to this one, only with the points in different places. Sorcha had one that looked like ours.” She got up from the bed and picked up Tilly’s journal from the dressing table, along with a fountain pen. She opened it to the back cover and drew a circle and triangle intertwined. “When her brother and sister’s marks were combined, they made the sign of Triùir Mhòra – the Magical Three.” She handed Tilly back the journal and the girl looked at the symbol.

“Triùir Mhòra,” Tilly repeated, trying to wrap her mouth around the words. “What does this have to do with me?”

“Our ancestor, Sorcha, had the ability to feel emotions. She could tell what a person, animal, even a plant was feeling at that moment. She was an empath,” Delphine said, taking her granddaughter’s hand. “Just like you.”

“Is that what happened to me?” Tilly’s eyes widened. “It was so sudden! One minute I was perfectly normal, the next I could feel what everyone in the club was feeling at the same time. I felt like I was going to be sick.”

“You’re still normal,” Delphine said gently. “This is normal for us. Our family was blessed with these powers and they’re a part of us. It’s who we are. Give it a little time and you wouldn’t want it any other way.”

“Our family? You have this power too, Grandame?” Tilly’s eyes widened and her grandmother nodded. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

“I planned to one day, when you were a bit more mature. As long as you were sneaking out to clubs and associating with strange men, I didn’t want to put our secret in your hands.” There was more than a touch of disapproval in her voice and Tilly’s face reddened. “Besides, I thought perhaps it had skipped your generation. It happens sometimes in such a long lineage. You bear the mark, so it was unlikely but not unheard of. Our ancestors passed their powers to their children but we’ve intermarried with others for hundreds of years so there are bound to be some who are, as you would say, normal.”

Tilly was quiet for a long moment. Her head was spinning from everything her grandmother had told her. If she hadn’t felt the rush of emotions the night before, she would have thought Delphine was having some fun at her expense. Now she had no alternative but to believe that she and her grandmother were witches. She gathered her thoughts and looked at Delphine.

“Were our ancestors really from France?”

“Not originally,” Delphine said. “Our three ancestors were from Scotland, but their families fled to France after they were killed by witch hunters.” She brushed a lock of hair behind Tilly’s ear. “Much like the one who tried to kill you last night. One of them was called Ellair Friseal.”

“That explains why he said I wouldn’t enslave anyone with my magic,” Tilly said. “I don’t understand, though. All I can do is feel emotions, I can’t influence people.” She frowned. “Can I?”

“Witch hunters have no idea how our magic works. They’re afraid of us, so they assume wild things about us and use them to make people as afraid as they are. The Dalais family has only ever used our powers for good.” Delphine smiled. “Don’t worry, my dearest. I’ll do my best to teach you how to use your power, and how to block it so you won’t be overwhelmed like last night. You must promise to be careful from now on, though. Understand?”

“Yes, Grandame.” Tilly looked down at her breakfast. She was still hungry but had never felt less like eating in her life.

“You don’t have to finish it if you don’t want to,” Delphine said, getting up from the bed. “You really should, though. After last night your body needs to recover. Just know that you are more special than you could have ever imagined, and that I love you with all my heart.”

“I love you too,” Tilly said, her eyes filling with tears. She blinked them back, then picked up her fork. She didn’t want to waste her grandmother’s beautiful breakfast, after all. Delphine paused at the bedroom door and turned back to her.

“We’ll be looking for a new place to live, of course. Now that we know witch hunters have found where we live, we can’t risk staying here.” She sighed. “Just when I finally got that moonflower to thrive, too. Those men are much more trouble than they’re worth.” She closed the door behind her and Tilly looked at herself in the mirror across the room.

A witch, she thought incredulously. I’m a real witch. Her grandmother had said that the Dalais family used their powers for good and she set aside her tray and got out of bed. She went to the dressing table and picked up the short black wig she donned when she went out at night. I won’t be needing this anymore, she said, dropping it into the trash on top of her torn dress. From now on, she was going to make her ancestors proud.

Buy on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07DT3SCVH/

Different format? Use this universal link: http://www.books2read.com/SearchForSam

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Week 6 of the Cross Stitch Project

img_4406I didn’t get much done this week again but I’m not as upset about it. For one thing, I had so much craziness in my life and for another, it was time to work on one of my bigger squares.

I found some old cross stitch pattern books in my storage space and I hadn’t even opened one of them since I flipped through it when I got it. There were a lot of smaller patterns in it and I picked the pattern I wanted. Then things happened like Clair Brett’s super-fun Facebook party and I kept putting it off so I ended up having to go with a smaller design that utilizes negative space. At least that’s what I keep telling myself. Yes, I have fallen victim to the lure of the empty canvas.

Amanda’s square was the cute little mouse up there, and I can’t even begin to express how adorable I think it is. The little dress and the Christmas lights are just too much. She’s still got two tiny squares to go and I’m looking forward to seeing what she comes up with. I dropped the piece off with her yesterday morning but haven’t seen it yet so she may be finishing it on lunch.

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This is the pattern I ended up using. It should have been two more stitches on either side but there was an error when I made the grid so it came out like this. It’s still even on each side, though, so I’m happy with it. This week I fully intend to use the other pattern for my next big square and then it’s time for the long border rectangle. I can’t wait to share the finished piece with you! I’m planning on framing it if possible and hanging it up in case Amanda ends up getting the park ranger job and moving to the back end of nowhere. She wants to do a Joan Elliott themed one so I guess we could mail it to one another in that case but that would be a huge pain. It would be worth it for friendship, though. It also gives me a way to relax between my two jobs (three if you include writing, which I totally do), and it doesn’t hurt my hands as much as gripping a crochet hook. On to week 7!

The Absence of Intellect – Eleven

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“We’ll leave the IV catheter in,” the nurse said as she unhooked the syringe pump from the line in the back of Hunter’s hand. “There’s one more infusion for the loading dose, then you’ll get an infusion once a month and continue the anti-inflammatories we’ve been giving you in pill form. Do you think you’ll be able to handle that schedule?”

“Yes,” Hunter said, watching her cap the end of the line. “I can set reminders on my phone. Maybe I’ll finally get one of those watches Emily always talks about.”

“Is Emily your caregiver?” The nurse started packing her things up and Hunter’s mind resisted this so strongly it was almost violent.

“No,” he said. “She’s my…” Hunter frowned. He wasn’t sure what she was to him, and it wasn’t because of the Alzheimer’s. They hadn’t talked about it, and Hunter couldn’t help being a little afraid of asking. He didn’t want her to think that the only reason he was with her was because she could help him, or because of the contacts that had brought him to this hotel room in the first place. Calling her his caretaker wasn’t accurate, and he didn’t want it to be. What he wanted was for her to be his girlfriend, or something like it, but if he asked her and she didn’t want to be, he ran the risk of losing her. Emily had only just started making his disease bearable, he didn’t want to drive her away by being presumptuous.

“We all need friends,” the nurse said with a smile. She zipped up her bag and put it over her shoulder. “Take the anti-nausea medication and the steroid, and rest. I hear there’s an NCIS marathon on one of the basic cable channels.”

“Sounds like a plan,” Hunter said. He stood up from the couch in the front half of his suite and walked the nurse to the door. The dizziness hadn’t hit him yet and he wanted to be polite while he still could. “Thank you.”

“I’ll be back in to check on you tomorrow.” She closed the door behind her and Hunter sighed as he went to the kitchenette and opened the refrigerator.

He’d been in Minneapolis for four days and hadn’t seen more than a grocery store, the Perrineau clinic, and a restaurant before he was too nauseous from the first treatment. The rest of the time had been spent in his hotel room watching television and talking with Emily as often as possible. She couldn’t exactly talk to him while she was at work so he’d had to content himself with reruns and trying to concentrate on a book he felt like he’d been reading for five years.

Thanks to the new medications, he didn’t experience the nausea he’d dealt with the first day of treatment but it also made him nod off. He couldn’t wait to get back to Chicago and the noise of the city. Minneapolis was busy, but not like Chicago. Hunter turned on the television and laid back on the bed with the remote, hoping he could find something more interesting than reality television, which was what he had been stuck watching the night before.

His phone rang and he woke with a start, looking around the unfamiliar room. The television was still on, but it was almost completely dark. The call went to voicemail and he picked up the phone to see who had called. It took him a minute to find his glasses, which he seemed to have taken off before he fell asleep, and when he put them on his phone was ringing again. This time it was a video call from Emily and he smiled and tried to rearrange his hair before answering.

“Hi!” She was immediately waving at him from his phone’s screen and he reached over to turn on the lamp by the side of the bed. “Were you asleep?”

“Just dozed off,” he said. “The meds they gave me for nausea keep making me fall asleep.” She looked pretty with her hair in a ponytail and a tank top with thin straps, and his mind wandered to kissing her in the kitchen before he’d left. “What are you up to?”

“Trying to decide what I’m making for dinner. I went ahead and made the stir fry without you the other night, I forgot to tell you. I read an article about onions getting toxic if you leave them out too long and I didn’t feel like getting food poisoning.” The background moved and he realized she was walking and talking. She stopped in the kitchen and opened the refrigerator, pointing her phone at it. “It’s pretty empty but I didn’t want to go shopping without you.”

“There should be some frozen dinners,” Hunter said. “I keep some around for when I’m too foggy to cook.”

“Maybe I’ll get one.” She closed the refrigerator and sat down, presumably at the island. “How are things going other than the nausea?”

“Fine. I’ve been watching a lot of television. Last night I watched five hours of a show about people buying small houses,” he said with a yawn.

“Oh really? And how was it?”

“I don’t know, I’m beginning to think I should downsize. I’m going to have to once I can’t work, maybe I’ll buy a tiny house.” He stood up from the bed and went to the kitchenette to get a drink. They’d told him at the beginning of the treatment to stay hydrated so he’d bought several packs of sports drink and had been steadily making his way through them. “I slept for almost six hours in the middle of the day yesterday so I was up half the night.”

“Are you going to stay nauseous once you come back? I mean, are you going to have to keep taking the medication?” She reached up and scratched the side of her nose, then got up from the island and went to the pantry.

“I don’t think so. They did tell me what I’m going to have to do to maintain this treatment, though. I need to have an infusion once a month for maintenance and take a steroid. They said they could ship the infusion to me rather than having to come to Minnesota every time, if my doctor was comfortable administering it,” he said, sitting back on the bed. “Hang on, I have to put my phone down for a second to open this.” He set the phone on the nightstand and twisted the cap off his drink while Emily went on talking.

“You know, I do still have a medical license. I could give it to you at home, no problem. I’d just need to get some basic supplies, but I’ll bet Karen would ship those along with the medication.” She took something out of the pantry and shook it, then closed the door and started walking again. Hunter couldn’t help smiling. “What?”

“Did you just refer to my house as ‘home?’”

“I guess I did,” Emily said. Her image started bobbing as she went up the stairs. “It was just force of habit, since I’ve been here so long. Hopefully the insurance company will get back to me soon.”

“I meant it when I said you could stay as long as you wanted. I’m happy to have you,” Hunter said. “I’m also fine if you want to call it home. I’m glad you feel that way.” He was more than glad, he was close to being overjoyed. Since Robin had gotten a place of her own, his house had sometimes felt too big for him. Emily and the cat had brought life to it again and he didn’t want her to go.

“I’m glad I didn’t offend you.” She had reached the guest room and leaned under the bed. The mother cat, who looked considerably more well-fed since he’d met her, looked up from where she was curled around her kittens. “Mimi and the babies are happy to hear it too. The last one opened its eyes.”

“The little one you’re calling Pipsqueak?” Emily nodded and he smiled. “I like that one. You should name the others.”

“It’s a work in progress.” She stood up again and turned off the light. “So if your last treatment is tomorrow, are you still coming home Saturday?” She’d said it again and he couldn’t stop smiling.

“Yes. You’ll be able to pick me up, right? Since you’ll be off work?”

“Of course. Even if I wasn’t, I’d come pick you up.” Emily sat on the bed she and Hunter now shared and leaned against the headboard. “I suppose I’ll let you go for now. I’m going to eat this entire box of Wheat Thins and go to bed.”

“Don’t go just yet,” Hunter said, sitting up. Emily raised an eyebrow at him.

“Why? You want me to talk dirty to you?” She pulled one strap of her tank top down so that her shoulder was bare and Hunter laughed. That actually would have been more than fine with him but he didn’t want to admit it.

“I’d rather wait until we can do something about it,” he said. Emily smirked but didn’t pull up her strap, which was also fine with him. “It’s still difficult for me to believe that anyone still wants to sleep with me.”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Emily said. “Who wouldn’t want to sleep with you? You’re handsome, you love cats, you’re dedicated, intelligent, and very kind.”

“Intelligent,” he snorted, setting down his drink. “If you’re trying to make me laugh, you’re going to have to try harder.”

“You’re still very intelligent,” Emily said, the smile disappearing from her face. “A few misplaced words and wrong turns in the car aren’t enough to take that from you. And I very much want to sleep with you.”

“This disease,” he began, then lost the words he was thinking. “It steals so much, over and over. I can’t even remember what I was about to say to you. I can’t remember the name of the nurse who came over today, so I’m going to have to wait until she introduces herself again tomorrow. It makes me feel like I’m completely separate from other people and like I should stay away from them. I have this fear that if they get too close I’m going to infect them. I honestly never thought I’d have sex again.”

“You don’t have to punish yourself for being sick,” Emily said with a sigh. “Before you say that’s not what you’re doing, it is. And I plan on having so much sex with you that you’re going to beg me to let you up for air.”

“Maybe a little dirty talk is all right,” Hunter said, and Emily laughed.

“All right,” she said pulling down her other strap. “A little taste of what I have in mind.” She started to pull the neck of her top down to reveal the tops of her breasts and Hunter leaned back against the headboard again. This was exactly what he needed.

An Excerpt from The Search For Sam

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Tuesday is the big day! The Search for Sam will finally be available to buy on all platforms! You can still preorder it and be one of the first to get your hands on it, but if you want a little taste before then, here’s a little excerpt from Chapter One.


“Haven’t I seen you somewhere before?” From the way the man was slurring his words, it was obvious that he had been drinking for a while. The woman at the table he was leaning on was young, much younger than the other women in the club, but it didn’t sway the drunk man at all.

“Maybe,” she said nonchalantly. “I’ve been to nearly every joint in the city at least once.” She gave him an appraising look. He was good-looking and she wanted to dance, but drunk men often didn’t make the best dance partners. It didn’t hurt to talk to him, though.

“What’s your name, sweetheart?”

“Dinah,” the woman said, deciding to take a chance on him. She wouldn’t have to talk to him long to know if he was too drunk to be interesting. The man smiled and pulled a chair away from a nearby table so he could sit across from her. She raised an eyebrow. “Yes, please, have a seat.”

“I’m Leonard,” he said, ignoring her sarcasm. “Nice to meet you, Dinah. You want something to drink?” Privately, Dinah thought that the last thing Leonard needed was another drink so she shook her head. “You sure? I’m buying.”

“No thanks,” Dinah said. She looked around the club, where men and women alike had drinks in their hands and cigarettes between their lips. Normally she would have joined them, but if Leonard was going to be any fun at all, she was going to have to put a lid on his drinking.

“Well, then, how about a cigarette and some fresh air?”

“Sure, that’s fine.” Dinah picked up her pocketbook and walked out the back door with the drunk man. There was a small fence around the edges of an alley and several trash cans in the corner. Dinah half-sat on one of them as the man took a pack of cigarettes from his pocket. “It’s quite nice out here tonight.”

“They’re packed in there like sardines tonight,” Leonard said. “It gets a little stuffy in there once everyone gets going.” He shook two cigarettes out and offered one to Dinah, who put it to her lips and waited for him to light it. Somehow she knew he would want to, and she didn’t mind. Sure enough, he took a lighter out of his jacket pocket and opened it up. She leaned forward and let him light her cigarette, then took it out of her mouth and exhaled.

“That’s nice,” she said, pointing to the lighter. “Is that silver?”

“It is,” Leonard said around his own cigarette as he lit it, cupping his hands around the flame. “It was my father’s.”

“He had good taste,” Dinah said, and Leonard held it up for her to get a better look. There was an ornate design engraved on it and her eyes widened. “That’s fabulous. Is it a shield?”

“It’s my family’s coat of arms,” Leonard said. “It’s been passed down from father to son for five hundred years. My last name’s Fraser,” he continued, dropping his lighter back into his pocket, “but it was originally Friseal.” He spoke these last words as if they should mean something to Dinah, but she didn’t understand. Leonard could tell she was confused and laughed in disbelief. “You don’t know?”

“Know what, exactly?”

“That’s just going to make it easier,” Leonard said. He threw his still-lit cigarette on the ground and walked toward her, an expression of triumph on his face. Dinah was still trying to figure out what was going on when a wave of heat washed over her. Suddenly she could feel the man’s intentions toward her, though she didn’t know how. It was as if he was made of pure malice, but also a sort of righteousness, and Dinah backed away from him.

“Get away from me,” she said, looking back quickly to see how close she was to the door. “Get away or I’ll scream!” Leonard ignored her words, advancing on her with a knife he’d taken out of his inside pocket. Dinah continued backing up, looking for a way to get out.

The only way away from this man was through the club, and the feelings of greed and evil intensified the closer he got. He’d stopped playing drunk and gotten down to his real business with her, and Dinah knew that if she stayed outside he would surely kill her. She realized that her own lit cigarette was still in her hand and an idea came to her. It was a long shot but it was all she had. Holding her breath, Dinah threw her cigarette at him, hoping it would burn him or at least distract him long enough for her to get away. Not waiting to see if it worked, she turned on her heel and ran up the stairs to the club. She’d no sooner put her foot on the middle step than she was jerked backward.

“You’re mine,” he growled from behind her, close enough that she could smell his sweat. “I’m not letting anyone else get you, and I’m not letting you enslave any more men with your magic.”

Dinah hadn’t the slightest idea what Leonard was talking about. She didn’t know anything about the magic he was speaking of, she just wanted to get away from him. Dinah pulled forward as hard as she possibly could and heard a rip as the strap of her dress tore. All that mattered to her was that she was free, and she ran up the steps and flung open the door to the club.

The moment she stepped through the door, Dinah was hit from all sides by flashes of emotion that could only be coming from the patrons of the club. They varied in intensity from vague interest to jealousy to passion so fiery that her cheeks reddened, and she pushed her way through the club as she was battered by the feelings of the people who had no idea she was trying to escape. Suddenly their voices were too loud, and their laughter seemed out of place. It was as if they were all screaming at her at once and Dinah pressed her hands to her ears to try and shut them out, but they just kept coming.

“Stop! Just stop,” she shouted, getting the attention of several people in the club. They looked at her with interest, and she could imagine how she looked, a crying young woman in a ripped dress screaming hysterically. The other patrons moved away from her as if she was carrying a contagious disease and Dinah took advantage of the path they made to run out the front door of the club. There was a man at the entrance and he grabbed Dinah’s arm. She got a feeling of intense concern from him, but the only thing she was interested in was getting as far from the club as possible.

“Hey, miss,” he said with a frown, “you okay?”

“I’m sorry, I’ve got to leave,” she said, looking back to see if Leonard was following her. She didn’t see him, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t close enough to grab her again and the unarmed man holding her arm wouldn’t be expecting the knife he was holding. She shook his arm off and ran down the deserted side street with his voice echoing after her.

“Miss! Don’t you want your coat?”

Dinah wasn’t sure how long she ran, only that her feet were screaming in protest when she recognized she was halfway home. She’d long since made it to a main street and she raised a hand to hail a cab. One stopped immediately and she got in with a smile.

“Thank you,” she said gratefully. “I need to get home as quickly as possible.” She moved to open her pocketbook and realized that she’d left it behind the club when she’d run away. “Oh, I’m sorry,” she said. “I seem to have misplaced my pocketbook.” She reached for the door handle and felt a gentle pity coming from the driver.

“Don’t worry, miss. I’ll get you home safe, no charge.”

“Thank you,” Dinah repeated, a fresh wave of tears welling up in her eyes. A man who might or might not have been Leonard was coming out of the club but it didn’t matter. The taxi driver was pulling away from the curb, taking her to the place she knew would be safe. “My grandmother will pay your fare,” she said, brushing tears out of her eyes with the back of her hand.

“There’s no need, miss. You remind me of my little sister,” he said, looking back at her with a smile. “You’re awfully young to be out so late, though. If you don’t mind my saying so, you might stay safer if you keep closer to home.”

“Not at all,” Dinah said, trying her best to give him a smile. “I just may take your advice.” It wasn’t a lie. Leonard’s abrupt change from good-natured drunk to the man whose aim had been to kill her had frightened her. More than that, she didn’t know what had happened to her when she was running through the club. It was as if everyone’s emotions were vying for a place in her mind at once and it had left her feeling drained.

What was that? She leaned back on the seat. Were those really peoples’ emotions? The taxi driver had fallen silent and was paying attention to the road, and Dinah tentatively reached out to him in an attempt to see if she really was able to tell what he was feeling. A warm, protective sensation came over her and she felt a little more relaxed. Dinah supposed that part of it was knowing that the driver meant her no harm but she was glad of it anyway.

“We’re coming up on the junction,” he said, and she looked up at him with a genuine smile. This man truly wanted to help her. “Can you point me in the direction of your house?”

“Oh! Yes of course. Turn to the left here. Do you know where the herbalist is? The place with the greenhouse?” He nodded in reply and she sat back. “That’s where I live, over the shop.”

“Then let’s head over there.” The driver turned left and they were both silent again. Dinah was glad of this as well. She didn’t feel much like talking. In fact, she was having trouble keeping her eyes open. She managed to stay awake until the driver pulled up in front of the shop whose sign read simply ‘Botanic Experts.’ There was a light in the downstairs window, and as soon as Dinah stepped out of the taxi the door flew open.

“Good heavens, where have you been? I was so worried about you!” A woman roughly the same height as Dinah hurried down the path to the street. Her features marked her as a relative of the girl, but her long, braided hair was silver where Dinah’s was short and dark. Her sapphire blue eyes searched the girl’s face avidly. “Are you all right? What’s happened?” She reached over and picked up the torn shoulder strap that was lying on Dinah’s arm. “Something’s happened, I can feel that you’re upset.”

“Can we go inside, Grandame? I’m really not feeling well.”

“Yes, I know.” It wasn’t the first time her grandmother had said something to this effect. Dinah had always dismissed it as the old woman speaking as someone who knew her, but now she wondered if it had been something more. The woman she had called Grandame looked at the taxi driver. “Thank you for bringing my granddaughter home safely. May I offer you some tea?”

“No thanks, I’ve got to be headed back to find another fare before I go home,” he said, then yawned widely. “Excuse me. I’ve been up all night.”

“Then tea is what you need.” She took a small cloth bag out of the apron she was wearing and went to the car to hand it to the driver. “I was just about to box this up for the shop but I want you to have it instead. Drink it  and you’ll have plenty of energy. Do I owe you any money for the fare?”

“No ma’am. Just glad to see this young lady home safe.” He tipped the hat he was wearing to them both, then smiled and drove away. Grandame turned to Dinah, who felt like she was about to collapse from fatigue now that she had that luxury.

“Now, what happened?” Her Grandame’s voice was kind but she was too tired to explain, and her relief at being home with her grandmother was such that hot tears pricked the backs of her eyelids. The old woman looked at her kindly and smiled. “Come along, Mathilde, we should get you in the house and cleaned up. You can tell me what happened in the morning.” Dinah rubbed the tears out of her eyes with the heel of her hand again, realizing too late what she was probably doing to her eye makeup. I must look a fright.

“Don’t call me that. You know I hate that name.” She started toward the shop and her grandmother caught up to walk beside her.

“You should be proud of your name,” Grandame said with a shake of her head. “It’s one of the names passed down among the women in our family when we came here from France.” Her grandmother’s words were too close to the way Leonard had talked about his father’s lighter and a chill ran down her spine. Dinah was suddenly fully awake again and she looked at her grandmother, who was still talking about their distant relatives in France. “If I remember correctly, Mathilde was your mother’s favorite great-aunt. It would make her sad to know you were ashamed to share her name.”

“I’m not ashamed,” Dinah said irritably. “It’s just so old-fashioned.” It struck her then that she didn’t want people to refer to her as ‘Dinah’ anymore either, not when there was a man who was searching for her and trying to kill her. Her grandmother seemed to read her mind as she pushed the door to the shop open for her, and she smiled.

“What about Tilly?”

“Hmm,” Dinah said. It was much cuter than Mathilde, and it somehow gave her a feeling of calm, as if her mother was giving her approval. “All right,” she said with a smile as she went into the shop. “That sounds quite nice.”

“That’s more like it,” Grandame said, putting an arm around the girl as she led her up the stairs to the apartment they shared above their tiny shop. They were still establishing themselves in New York but it seemed now that they weren’t as welcome as Grandame had hoped. “Don’t you worry about a thing, dear,” she said. “Go on up to bed and we can talk more about it in the morning.” It sounded like an excellent idea to her granddaughter, and she went directly to her room and closed the door. Instead of going to bed immediately, she looked at herself in the mirror. Her dark eye makeup was indeed smeared across her face and the bobbed wig she was wearing was askew. More worrisome though was her torn dress and she tried to see if it could be repaired, then decided against it. The last thing she wanted was to remember that night, Leonard, or anything else.

She took off the wig, revealing reddish-brown hair hair in a tight bun, and settled it carefully on the stand on her vanity, then stripped off the dress and dropped it into the trash can. Too tired to fight with the sticky drawer of her dresser, she finished undressing and crawled into bed in her slip. Outside the door she could hear Grandame moving around and closed her eyes. All she wanted at that moment was to forget.

Preorder on Amazon here:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07DT3SCVH/

Want a different format? Use this universal link:

http://www.books2read.com/SearchForSam

The Legacy’s Origin is still available for free on Amazon, so you can read a little more about the original Dalais siblings before you read my book. It’s really good, if a heartbreaker.

The Absence of Intellect – Ten

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“You know, I’ve never cooked with anyone before,” Emily said, bringing a bowl of freshly peeled mangoes to the kitchen island. “It seems like everyone I’ve ever been with found out I liked cooking and just left me to it.”

“I used to cook with my wife all the time,” Hunter said, taking a mango from the bowl and putting it on the cutting board. “Ellen had this huge collection of old cookbooks that she got from somewhere, a relative or maybe a bookstore.” He frowned at the mango. “I can’t quite remember. But she liked to try new things and it was good for me. Good for Robin too. She was the only eight-year-old in her class that would eat sushi.” He sighed. “Or six. She might have been six.”

“I’m glad you were open to trying this,” said Emily with a smile. “So many people hear fruit and beans in the same sentence and hit the brakes.”

“Well, I can’t remember if I’ve ever eaten black bean mango stir-fry but I like black beans and I like mango, so it was worth trying again if I have.” He cut the mango into cubes so precise that Emily could easily see the scientist in him showing through. She smiled and went to the sink to drain the beans that were ready on the stove.

It had been a week since she’d discovered that the neural bridge was never going to be a reality, and she still couldn’t shake the feeling that she was a failure. She was having a hard time concentrating on the new drug because all she could think about was what to do next with the neural bridge.

Thanks to her sister’s condition, she had collected a number of neurology contacts that she had been reaching out to over the last week, hoping that someone would have something that could help Hunter. She rinsed the beans once more and set them aside in the colander just as Hunter turned around with the bowl of mango.

“Here you go,” he said. “That’s the last of it, right?”

“Yeah. Bell peppers, mangos, onions and beans. Now, let’s see,” Emily said, picking up the magazine she’d set on the counter. “Okay, now we sauté the onions and bell peppers.” Hunter took the olive oil from the cabinet by the stove and turned on the burner.

“I’ll heat the oil, you go ahead and start the rice,” he said. Emily nodded and went to the pantry to find where he kept his rice. There were three glass containers on one of the shelves and she leaned back out and looked at Hunter.

“You have three kinds of rice?”

“I told you, I like cooking. It’s one of the only things I can still do without too many problems. Maybe sometime I’ll show you some of my recipes.” He poured the oil into the pan without bothering to measure it.

“Ones you’ve made yourself?” Emily picked the jasmine rice and took the jar to the island. Hunter nodded at her. “That’s impressive,” she said. Hunter turned to her and put his hands on her waist, pulling her to him. “Shouldn’t you be watching the oil?”

“It’s low heat,” he said with a devious-looking smile. Emily put her arms around his neck and returned the smile.

“What are you doing?”

“This.” He kissed her and pulled her close enough that they were pressed together, and as his tongue brushed against hers Emily wished she could melt into him. Instead she pulled away a little, gently tugging at his lower lip as she did. Hunter met her eyes and she smiled at him. “You’re so beautiful when your cheeks are red like that.”

“I’ve always blushed too easily,” Emily replied. “Everyone always knows what I’m thinking.” Hunter swayed with her.

“What are you thinking right now?”

“I think you can guess.” This time it was her turn to kiss him and Hunter didn’t waste any time. He met her enthusiasm with his own, reaching down to squeeze her bottom and pull her to him. It had been some time since Emily had been kissed quite so forcefully and she suddenly wanted to wrap her legs around him. She could feel his hardness against her and her body ached for him to be inside her. One of his hands moved slowly up her side beneath her shirt and he had barely had a chance to put his hand on her breast when Emily’s phone rang on the kitchen table.

“Leave it,” Hunter said into her ear, and Emily nodded. He slid his hand under her bra and brushed his thumb over her nipple. “Emily. I want to—” He was interrupted by the acrid smell of burning oil and let go of her. “Dammit!” Hunter turned back to the stove, which was now smoking, while Emily tried to catch her breath.

She had a feeling she knew what he had been about to say, and knew that her answer would be yes. She couldn’t remember the last time she had wanted someone as much as she wanted Hunter at that moment, and she took a step toward him to tell him to forget dinner when the smoke detector went off with a deafening shriek.

All thoughts of sex disappeared from her mind as she rushed to the patio door to open it and let the smoke out. Hunter fanned the pan with the magazine as Emily sighed. The alarm was like a knife through her head and she took the magazine from Hunter and continued to fan the smoke toward the open door while he went to disable the smoke alarm. As soon as it was silent again in the kitchen, Hunter shook his head.

“Sorry about that,” he said. He went to the stove and looked at the pan. “The oil is completely burned onto the bottom of the pan. I’m going to have to soak this before we can use it again.” He looked over at Emily. “We could always just forget dinner and pick up where we left off.” Emily was about to tell him that she was thinking the same thing, but she was interrupted by her phone ringing again. They both looked at it and she went to the table.

“Hold that thought.” The number on the screen was from Minnesota and Emily’s heart stopped for a moment. She only knew one person in Minnesota and she was the only person that could take her mind off Hunter. “Hello?”

“Emily, hi,” Dr. Karen Westbrook said. “I’m sorry to call you twice but it’s really important and I didn’t want to leave a message.

“It’s no problem,” Emily said. “I was just making dinner. Please tell me you’re calling to tell me you have something that can help my friend.” She wasn’t sure if Hunter would want her to call him her boyfriend – if that was even what he was – or that the brilliant Hunter Chambers was slowly drifting away so she’d told Karen that he was a friend. It wasn’t a lie, necessarily. He just happened to be the kind of friend that she wanted to throw her on the kitchen table and kiss every inch of her body.

“As a matter of fact, I am. I’ve been working on a new medication that works completely differently than the current generation of Alzheimer’s drugs. I just got the final approval to start clinical trials and I’ll be administering the first treatments tomorrow. One of the participants had to drop out at the last minute and I was wondering if your friend would want to take his place,” Karen said. “It would help me out and hopefully slow down his disease progression.”

“Thank you Karen, this is such good news. I’m certain he will,” Emily said. “Let me hand the phone to him.” Hunter looked at her curiously and Emily pressed mute. “My friend Karen works in research, and she’s got a spot in a clinical trial for a new Alzheimer’s treatment. She wants to know if you’d be willing to take it.”

“Yes,” Hunter said immediately. “Of course I do!”

“Talk to her, then,” Emily said, handing him the phone. “She can give you the details.” He unmuted her phone and put it to his ear.

“This is Hunter Chambers,” he said, then sighed. “Yes, that Hunter Chambers.” He listened to Karen while Emily started putting the cut fruit and vegetables into plastic storage containers. She moved slowly so she could eavesdrop as she did. “I’d love to participate, can you send me the details? I’d write them down but my handwriting is damn near illegible this late in the day. What time do you need me there?” Emily snapped the storage container with the mangoes in it closed. “I’ll be there. Thank you so much, Doctor.” He held the phone out to Emily, and she took it.

“I can’t thank you enough for this,” she said. “Hopefully your treatment works.”

“Me too. Dr. Chambers didn’t give me his information to send the details, can you send it to me?”

“Send it to my email,” Emily said. “You still have it, right?”

“Your personal one? Sure. It’s probably a good idea for me to send it to you anyway, if his memory problems have advanced to the point you described he might accidentally delete it or forget about it. He’s lucky he has you to look out for him.” Emily smiled at her friend’s words, then looked at Hunter. “Could you do me a favor and not use his real name?”

“Of course,” Karen said. “I can arrange for him to be given the treatment privately as well, and list him under a generic name. His identity will be fully protected. Will you be coming with him?”

“No, I’ve got work to do here. Take care of him for me, Karen.”

“Absolutely. Talk to you soon.” She hung up and Emily turned her attention to Hunter, who was looking down at the counter and gripping it with both hands.

“Are you all right?” She went over to him and put a hand on his shoulder. Hunter looked over at her and nodded, just as her phone vibrated to let her know she’d received an email. She opened her email app and saw a message from Karen with an attachment. “Here’s the information,” Emily said, opening the document. “They’re going to need you at the Perrineau Clinic tomorrow morning at 8:30. Karen said they could do the treatment privately, but you should still be there for the orientation. No one has to know that you’re there for the trial.”

“If I have to be there first thing in the morning, I’m going to have to leave right now,” Hunter said. He had a sort of dazed look on his face and Emily smiled at him. “I can’t believe it. This is all happening so quickly.”

“That’s a good thing,” Emily said. “Why don’t we forget dinner and go upstairs. I’ll find you some plane tickets and a hotel reservation while you pack. The first part of the trial is going to take five to seven days, so you’ll need a suitcase. I’ll help you stay on task.”

“Thanks,” Hunter said. He offered her a hand and Emily took it, then walked with him to the stairs. “I’m going to need a plane ticket, a hotel reservation, and uh, something else. Right?”

“Probably a rental car,” Emily said. “Which might be a bad idea, honestly. You shouldn’t be trying to navigate around an unfamiliar city. Public transportation might be just as bad, so the best thing might be to just use something like Uber.” They went up the stairs hand in hand, and Hunter nodded.

“You’re right. Would you mind driving me to the airport? It’ll probably be a lot faster than taking the train.”

“Of course,” Emily said. “Whatever I can do to help you, I will.”

“I know,” Hunter said, stopping in the middle of the stairs. Emily looked at him curiously and he took two steps down so they were face to face. “Thank you, Emily. You’ve given me hope.” She hugged him, then leaned forward and rested her forehead against his.

“No matter what happens, I’ll be here when you come back,” she said. Hunter took her hands in his and kissed them. “Let’s get you packed.” Hunter nodded and Emily pulled him up the stairs, hoping that it would work. They wouldn’t know right away but what he needed was time. The treatment could give him that. “Any preference on hotels and airlines?”

“I think I have a frequent flyer number for one of them,” Hunter said, frowning. “Not sure which one, though.”

“We’ll figure it out,” Emily said, hoping he understood that she meant more than just the numbers. “We’ll figure it all out.”

 

Coming Soon – A Christmas Reunion

img_4033-1On the banks of Llyn Ffynnon Las, a wish is made under the winter moon…

Carys Anwyl doesn’t much care for the man her father has arranged for her to marry, but as she is already twenty with no prospects she has little choice in the matter. She dreams of adventure and excitement, traveling a little further away from her village with each trip in the hopes she will one day get the courage to leave for good.

In the forest near Mount Snowden she meets Emrys, a young man who seems to have lost his memory, and she feels a connection with him like nothing she’s ever known. When he appears in her village a few days later, Carys’ dreams of leading her own life seem closer than ever. Unfortunately, her fiance has other plans, and as Emrys’ secrets slowly come to light she has to make a choice between love and duty that will change both of their lives for eternity.

Here’s some exciting news I’m finally able to share with you! Not only have I been lucky enough to be invited to write a book for one series this year, I’ve also got a second one coming out in November for the Christmas Wishes series!

This gorgeous cover was once again courtesy of the amazing Victoria Miller, and she’s outdone herself yet again. The back cover is going to look just as beautiful, and I’ll be revealing that at a later day.

Christmas Wishes is a series of six different holiday-themed stories from six different eras, all based on folklore or myth, and all starting with a wish. The books will be coming out starting in November with a Viking novel and ending in December in the Edwardian era. In a departure from my usual modern(ish) eras, this one takes place in the Tudor era! I’ve also never written a holiday-themed book either so I hope you enjoy it.

It’s been a lot of fun mapping this book out and I’m looking forward to sharing it with you on November 13th! Preorders are already underway and you can get mine for $0.99 and buy the whole set of six together! Here are all six beautiful covers, along with the full release schedule with handy links to everyone’s books:img_4050

11/6/18   Hela Takes a Holiday by Rebekah Lewis
11/13/18  A Christmas Reunion by Rebecca Lovell
11/20/18  The Appeal of an Elusive Viscount by Hildie McQueen
11/27/18  Christmas in the Duke’s Embrace by Amanda Mariel
12/4/18   The Magic of Gingerbread by Sandra Sookoo
12/11/18  Rebellious Angel by Dawn Brower

 

Week 5 of the Cross Stitch Project

img_4261Well, this week was kind of a bust.

Thanks to the fact that I was staring a deadline square in the face plus trying to finish Absence of Intellect, the sampler barely moved at all this week. A billion more important things kept coming up and I spent days repeating my mantra: I’ll work on it a little later. As soon as I finish [x, y, z] I’ll work on the penguin.

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After the exhausting rush to finish the snail after the triathlon last week, I dropped the sampler off in Amanda’s mailbox and was rewarded on Tuesday with this cute little snowman. She used a lot of negative space in this one and while it is adorable, I can’t bring myself to do the same. I like things that are filled in, so it looks almost quilty.

This is my little penguin. I intended to try and create a little toast and jam pattern because I couldn’t find any tiny ones, but it was easier said than done and everything started rushing in at me so I gave up and went with the cute little penguin. He looks easy enough but I was up until 1:30 finishing him after getting all my ducks in a row for next week’s release of Search for Sam. Not sure what kind of little creature I’m doing next but the sampler is drawing to a close and Amanda’s turn to pick the theme is next. I’m excited but worried. She’s talking 18 count and I’m terrified.

Romance Fiction and More