Trusting Starlight – Part 4

“I really appreciate this, Brie,” Sami said as Penny and Ben squeezed past the two women, nearly knocking them over. “You don’t mind that it’s a sleepover?” She pitched her voice over the sound of the children yelling for Santiago.

“Are you kidding? That’s the best part. Mark’s making donuts.”

“For breakfast?”

“Dinner.” Sami turned as Mark walked into the room, a towel thrown over his shoulder and flour dusting the tee shirt advertising his weekly cooking show. He slung an arm over Brie’s shoulders. “You’re going to love them, Archie, my man.” Archie burrowed his head into Sami’s neck.

“I’m sorry. He’s been like this all afternoon.” Sami kissed his forehead.

“Come here,” Brie said, reaching for Archie. He shook his head and gripped Sami tighter. Over the top of his hair, she could see the clock ticking ever closer to the start of her shift.

“Archie, sweetheart, go with Miss Brie,” Sami whispered into his ear. She pried him from her neck and handed him to Brie’s waiting arms.

“They’ll be fine,” Brie assured her, her face glowing as she snuggled the little boy closer. Archie leaned his head against Brie and closed his eyes.

“I’ll have my cell on me,” Sami fretted.

Mark put his hand to Archie’s forehead. “He’s probably just tired. He was with his dad last night?”

“Yeah,” Sami picked up her purse from where she’d dropped it.

“We’ll call you if anything happens,” Brie assured her. “Don’t worry.”

“Okay.” Sami lingered at the door. “Penny! Ben!” Running feet and clicking nails on wood floors was her only warning before she was over run by her oldest children and a dog who could nearly look her in the eye. Santiago’s wiry coat had taken on a gleam of health since he adopted Mark almost a year ago. He slid to a halt, seeming to keep Penny from falling as she tried to jump in front of Ben. They wrapped their arms around her.

“Mark made donuts for dinner!” Penny told her, eyes beaming.

“They’re mac and cheese donuts!” Ben crowed.

“Be good, okay?” Sami kissed them and pushed the hair out of Ben’s eyes. “Keep an eye on your little brother.” She stepped back. Mark and Brie looked happy and comfortable, with the kids and dog circling them. She leaned in for one last kiss to Archie’s cheek. He was asleep, his breaths even.

“Come at nine and I’ll make you breakfast,” Brie said.

“She’s learning to cook,” Mark said proudly.

“There’s this hot chef on TV who makes it look easy,” Brie teased.

“I’ll see you then.” Sami half ran down the sidewalk to her car, knowing she’d have to hit every green light to make it to work on time.

Sometimes, it felt like all she ever did was run late.

Franklin had been happy that she’d been able to find a sitter. Mike had been annoyed. “Sami,” he’d told her, taking her aside as Franklin gathered the kids’ shoes and jackets, “you’ve got to stop letting him do this to you. I love that man. Warts and all. Which is why I’m telling you, you need to set some boundaries or he’ll keep running all over you.” Mike had sent a fond look to her ex husband. “The man has a strong personality and you are too kind.”

Sami thought of his words now. It wasn’t that she was kind. God knows she’d had some very unkind thoughts about the man who’d broken her heart and destroyed her trust in men, but she had grown accustomed to being the adult in their marriage and, then, in their divorce. Maybe, she realized, it was time for her to take another step back. Franklin was Mike’s problem now.

She was almost giddy at the thought. “Not my monkey. Not my circus,” she whispered into the car as she pulled into the parking lot. She checked her watch. She was on time with four minutes to spare.

She flicked down the visor and applied a thin coat of lipstick. A tap at her window had her dropping the tube in her lap. She turned to see a large shape looming beside her door. It opened.

Sami put her hand to her heart. “My God, Carlos. You nearly gave me a heart attack. What are you doing?”

Carlos stepped back as she got out of the car and then closed the door behind her. “I had to get something out of my Jeep and saw you pull in. I thought I’d walk in with you.”

“Thanks.” As they approached the door, he slowed to a stop.  She looked at him. “What’s wrong?”

Carlos cleared his throat. “I was wondering what you were doing Monday night.”

“Oh!” Sami smiled. “Nothing too much. Why? Did you and Jessa want to come over and binge watch something? I was just thinking it’s been too long since we’ve gotten together. This semester kicked my rear.” Sami opened the door, wondering if she should suggest pizza. It’d be nice for Carlos not to cook on the one night a week the restaurant was closed. They could order out, maybe grab a six pack and settle in for a sci fi marathon.

Her thoughts were interrupted by Carlos’s hand pushing the half open door closed again. He loomed over her, one hand holding the door closed, his muscular body as impenetrable as a brick wall. Sami started to take a half step back and then reminded herself this was Carlos.

“I was wondering if you would like to go out on Monday night.”

“I guess so. Did you check with Jessa?” Sami preferred a pizza and beer at home, but Franklin had the kids and it might be nice to get out of the house.

“No,” Carlos said, a look of frustration crossing his face.

Sami reached up and patted his arm. It was solid as a rock. “Don’t worry. I’ll touch base with her tonight, see what we can figure out.” Carlos was always game for whatever she and Jessa came up with. She didn’t know what she would have done without her Buchons’ family. The divorce – and the reason why – had rocked her circle of friends. Most had fallen all over themselves to embrace Franklin’s exit from the closet. She’d felt a bit like collateral damage, eventually drifting away from the people who told her how proud she must be.

“We’re going to be late,” Sami said, laughing into Carlos’s frowning face. “Don’t worry. No chick flicks.” She ducked under his arm and reached for the door again. He stepped back, opening the door and gesturing her into the bustle of the kitchen on a Saturday night.

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Trusting Starlight – Part 3

Sami didn’t even try to keep a smile pasted to her face as she walked out the front door of Buchons’ to meet her ex husband. She’d given up on fake pleasantries right around the time she’d given up fake creamer. It should have gotten easier, meeting him week after week when he picked up the kids for his days. For a while, it had. She’d thought they might even had become friends.

Except he’d fallen in love.

And she wasn’t sure she ever could again.

“I want to tell everyone,” he’d gushed, his eyes brighter than they’d ever been when they’d been married. “I’ve found The One.”

She’d tried to bite her tongue, tried to maintain eye contact, but the words had slipped out. “It’s pretty great when you think you’ve found someone to spend the rest of your life with, isn’t it?”

He’d shuttered up at her bitter words, the arrogant mask he’d worn the last three years of their marriage hardening. “It is,” he’d agreed. “It’s wonderful to find someone who understands you.” In the six months since, he’d been distant. His coldness manifesting into a fastidiousness that had leaked into his relationship with the kids. She’d spoken to him, at length, but his only reaction had been dismissal and an increase in tardiness.

She watched him now, using a napkin purloined from his glove compartment to wipe down his squirming son. His hair was perfect, rumpled just enough to be edgier than a man over forty should be. His shirt – a crisp pale blue – was tucked into jeans with a label she knew cost far more than the clothes he’d bought when married. Everything about him screamed midlife crisis, especially the blonde leaning against the side of the car watching the children with an amused smile.

Sami shifted her eyes, not ready to face the love of Franklin’s life. “Their backpacks are in my car around back. It’s not locked.” She eyed the convertible. The car seat in the back looked out of place and she wasn’t certain the three kids would be comfortable shoved in like sardines. “You might want to put the top up.”

Franklin rolled his eyes. “I’m not an idiot.”

Sami bit back the obvious retort. “What time do you want me to come get them on Sunday?”

“About that,” Franklin glanced back toward the car before leaning in to speak in a low voice, “I’m not going to be able to keep them until Sunday.”

“What?”

“Well, I made reservations at this fantastic little bed and breakfast for tomorrow night.”

“What?” Sami knew her voice was beginning to squeak by the way Penny glanced over at her. She and Ben were regaling their father’s lover with stories about the lizard which had, Sami noted distantly, grown in size if their hand gestures were any indication.

“Well, it’s our six month anniversary.”

Sami leaned closer. “You knew that before today,” she hissed.

Franklin shrugged, unrepentant. “I’m sure you can find a sitter.”

Sami’s mind raced, going through her back up childcare list, discarding one after another. One friend was out of town, another had the flu. A sudden thought struck her. “You should be finding a sitter,” she said.

Franklin looked shocked. “I don’t have anyone you’d allow to watch them.”

Sami had to admit he was right. When he’d left her, he’d left everyone behind while he started a new life. She had a feeling that if it wasn’t for the kids, she’d never have seen him again.

“Hey, Frank? We should probably get going. Sami has to work and the kids are bouncing.”

Franklin looked over to where Archie was rubbing his face against the previously flawless exterior of his car. “Archie!” Sami winced at the sharpness of his voice. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?”

Before Sami could intercede, help came from an unexpected place. “Jesus Christ, Frank. Chill out. They’re kids. Kids are messy.”

“Don’t roll your eyes at me,” Frank said, but he calmed instantly.

“I’ve been telling him he needs to get on medication, Sami. His OCD is out of control right now. I’m sorry we’re late. I had an appointment run over. Mrs. Hoyt had surgery on Wednesday and the poor thing needed a shampoo and style badly.”

Sami felt herself thaw. Reluctantly. “It’s okay, Mike.”

“And what’s this about tomorrow night, Frank? We have the kids. It’s on the calendar. I know it is because I put it there.”

“It’s our six month anniversary,” Franklin said. Sami noted he didn’t get angry when Mike called him Frank.

“We’ll celebrate next week,” Mike said firmly.

“I’ll see what I can do,” Sami nearly kicked herself. She couldn’t help it. She liked the man her ex-husband had fallen in love with no matter how hard she tried to hate him.

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Trusting Starlight – Part 2

Carlos jumped to his feet to help Sami wrangle the kids. He stopped when she put her hand on his arm. “Eat your dinner,” she said. “I’m fine.”

If she’d been holding up a blinking neon sign above her head, it would not have been any more obvious to Carlos that she was most definitely not fine. He’d watched the tension enter her body as the laughter left her eyes the second her ex husband had pulled up in front of the restaurant. “Let me get them boxes for their dinner,” he offered.

“No. Really,” she wiped soup and avocado from Archie’s face, “it’s fine. I’m sure Franklin is going to feed them something.”

Ben groaned. “Sushi. He’s going to make us eat sushi.” He slumped in his chair and crossed his arms. “I hate sushi,” he muttered mutinously. Carlos sent a glance to Jessa. As if reading his mind, his friend jumped to her feet and started stacking tortillas. A quick glance around the table set everyone else into motion. Like the well-oiled machine they were, his crew started packing enough food to feed a dozen children.

“Don’t worry, man,” Carlos told the boy, “stuff some of these tortillas in your shirt and you can eat them.”

“Carlos!” Sami laughed. “Ben, do not put tortillas in your shirt,” she said as the boy reached for his plate.

Carlos grinned, glad that he’d made her smile, and walked to the kitchen to grab a bag for the containers. Footsteps followed him.

“Dinner was good, Carlos.”

He turned. “Thanks, Centava. I’m glad you liked it.” He shouldn’t have favorites, but if he did, this little girl with her white blonde braids and serious gray eyes would be his.

“Can we come again?”

“Anytime, mija. Anytime.” He pulled on one silky braid. “You’d better get going. Your dad is waiting.” He handed her the bag then leaned against the counter and watched her walk out the door.

Jessa strode through the opening before it had a chance to swing back. “I could kill that man,” she seethed. Carlos crossed his arms and raised a brow. “Don’t you act all cool and calm, Carlos. I know why you came back here.”

“To get a bag.”

“To keep from punching that idiot in the nose,” she snorted.

Carlos shrugged, not denying it. He’d like nothing more than to pound an apology out of that miserable excuse of a man Sami had divorced. Jessa was quiet for a long moment. The sound of chatter hummed through the doors. Carlos glanced at the clock, calculating the time it would take to get ready to open and decided to give them another fifteen minutes. He’d been head chef of Buchons’ for almost a year, taking over when the previous owners had sold it and downsized. “Have you heard from Brie?” Carlos asked.

Jessa glanced at him sideways before taking the change of subject. “We went to breakfast this morning, actually.”

“Yeah? How’s she doing?”

“Fantastic.” Jessa bit her lip. “They have news.”

“Are you going to tell me?”

Jessa shook her head. “I can’t. But it’s good.”

Carlos grinned. He liked the Buchons. He’d started working for Mark Buchon the summer before senior year. His parents had been feuding over which alma mater he’d be attending after graduation when he’d seen a help wanted sign in the window of a little place that looked more like a sandwich shop than the top notch cafe it’d turned out to be. He’d gotten the job of washing dishes. That it made his parents grit their teeth and remind him of summer enrichment programs only made it better. By the end of summer, he’d been helping Mark with prep and had found his calling. The Buchons were family.

Mindy popped her head into the kitchen. The redheaded hostess smirked. “The coast is clear,” she said before disappearing to the front of the house again.

“You’re going to have to tell her at some point,” Jessa said pragmatically.

“She’s not ready, yet.” He thought for a moment. “How long has Mindy been here?”

“Two months, maybe three. Why?”

“Does everyone know?”

Jessa patted his arm. “Sweetie. You’re not exactly subtle.” She kissed his cheek and left him to his thoughts while she checked on her dough babies ready to go into the oven.

“Everyone?” he called after her.

“All but one,” she said, taking the plastic wrap off her trays. “You might want to try making a move at some point.”

“I’m working on it,” he mumbled.

“You’re not getting any younger.” Jessa started stacking the trays of rolls into the oven.

“Yeah, but I’m getting older.” He pushed away from the counter and walked to the doorway. Pushing it open, he lifted his hands to rest against the top of the door frame. “Time to get this show on the road,” he called out. He stayed for a moment while his staff made half-hearted groans and got to their feet. He glanced out the window. Sami was still outside, her arms crossed tightly in front of her while Franklin spoke to her. Carlos pushed away from the door and retreated to the kitchen. Yeah. He’d like to crack that guy’s skull. After he thanked him for letting Sami go.

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Trusting Starlight – Part 1

Sami speared the three angelic smiles beneath three sets of innocent eyes with her best Mom Look.

“I mean it, you three,” she hissed, “behave or I’ll…” She searched her mind for a proper punishment.

“You’ll beat us?” Ben asked. His eyes widened a split second too late for it to be genuine.

“Don’t tempt me,” Sami muttered, reaching for the door handle.

“Torture, Mommy? Will you torture us?” Penny pulled at her purse to get Sami’s attention as she turned the knob in her hand. The strap dug into Sami’s shoulder and sent a twinge of pain into her neck. She let the door close again and reached up to rub the muscles, wishing massages hadn’t disappeared from her life along with manicures, a three bedroom house, reliable childcare, and her husband.

“I’m not going to torture you.” Sami closed her eyes and counted to four. She’d given up on having a chance to make it to ten sometime between the births of Penny and Archie. Sami opened her eyes. Archie.

Her hand slipped from the door knob as she spun around. Eyes flying over the quiet parking lot, she spied a splash of bright blue cotton pants disappearing under a rosemary bush. “Stay here,” she called over her shoulder as she ran across the pavement. She reached out a hand and snagged the elastic band of Archie’s cotton pants. “Not so fast, mister.”

She brushed the dead leaves from the white blonde hair flopping over a face that was twisting into what she knew would be a tantrum. “No.” She kept her voice firm and picked him up, hefting his squirming body onto her hip. She adjusted him as he started to slip. “I’m serious Archibald Taylor Daily. Now is not the time for a fit.” Her tone of voice actually worked. She didn’t question the happy miracle as she crossed the parking lot.

She walked toward the door where her oldest two children waited with varying degrees of patience. Penny scuffed her sneakers against the brick wall of the building while Ben, “Ben!” Sami’s voice pitched to the cross between a squeak and a shout that made her sound like her own mother. “Put,” she consciously lowered her voice, “the lizard down.”

“He shouldn’t be here, Mom.” Sami ignored the twinge she felt every time he called her that. At nearly nine, he was, he’d told her, too old to call her mommy like a baby. “It’s too cold. Lizards like the heat.”

“Just put him down,” she said, letting Archie slide down her body to the ground, but keeping a firm grip on his chubby hand.

“He’ll die!” Penny said, crocodile tears welling up in her eyes.

“He’s not going to die,” Sami answered with what she hoped was not the last scrap of patience she had left. It was nearly four and she’d been up since before dawn trying to write her term paper before rushing the kids to school and daycare and herself to class. All she wanted to do was go home, put her feet up on the footstool she pretended was a coffee table, and pour a glass of wine all the way to the top. Instead, she had another seven hours of work in front of her before she could fall into bed and sleep. Thank God tomorrow was Saturday and it was going to be kid free.

Guilt burned and she shifted her face into a smile to hide the traitorous thought from the three children waiting for her verdict. She loved her children, with all her heart, but she was tired. So very tired.

“Ben,” she said, digging deep for calm, “the lizard wouldn’t be here if it was dangerous. Maybe he’s just heading home and took a shortcut through the parking lot.”

Ben gave her a look he’d perfected the year before. It was a look that calmly reminded her he wasn’t an idiot and he wasn’t a baby. Sami sighed and checked her wristwatch. It was old-fashioned in an age when cellphones were an extension of a person’s hand, but she liked the cool weight of the silver watch and the way it did nothing more than tell time.

She was ten minutes late.

“Lizard. Down. Now.” Ben dropped it as if it had suddenly caught fire. All three of her children knew what it meant when she stopped speaking in complete sentences. The reptile scurried away as if aware of how close it had come to being stuffed into a jar. Hitching her purse higher on her shoulder and narrowing her eyes on her progeny, Sami opened the back door to Buchons’.

The kitchen was nearly empty, most of the staff already in the dining room enjoying the family meal. Sami stored her purse in the cubby near the door and led the way to the swinging door separating the kitchen from the front of the house, noting the lingering smell of cumin and chilies. She smiled. Carlos had made pozole.

She’d worked at the restaurant for eighteen months, finding the waitressing job shortly after The Announcement. Two years ago, she’d never thought she’d be waiting tables to put herself through grad school. Of course, two years ago, she had been a PTA mom who lived in a typical suburban neighborhood with a slightly better than typical tract home, busy planning a clever family holiday photo.

“Sami!”

She grinned at the man setting plates of sliced avocado and radishes on the center of a table crowded with her co-workers. “Hey Carlos. Sorry I’m late.” The buzz of conversation barely registered a lull as approached the table.

Carlos spied the blonde trio trailing her like ducks and raised a brow. “It’s family meal,” he said. “You’re right on time. You guys hungry?”

“Carlos!” In seconds, her children swarmed over their friend, their words tumbling over each other.  Sami tuned out as the conversations turned to lizards and started to fill bowls with the fragrant soup.

“I made tortillas.” Jessa handed her a plate piled high.

“Thanks,” Sami said with a smile for her friend. Jessa rubbed her shoulder and sat down, not asking the question she could read on the rest of the staff’s faces. Again?

“Okay, guys. You’re going to love this,” Carlos lifted Penny up and over the chair, seating her in front of a bowl of pozole and plate of tortillas. “Don’t make that face, Centava. You always love my cooking.” Sami waited for her finicky eater to protest, relaxing when Penny picked up her spoon and started eating.

“He could die,” Ben told Carlos as he sat down next to his sister. He was obviously still thinking about the lizard as he absently shoved food in his mouth regaling Taylor – a new busboy – with tales of reptilian woe.

Sami tied a large cloth napkin around Archie’s neck and handed him a tortilla. Franklin hated it when the kids weren’t clean when he picked them up. Carlos leaned past her to drop an ice cube from a spoon into Archie’s soup. Sami smiled her thanks and settled into her own dinner, listening to the gossip and news with one eye watching the parking spaces out the front windows.

“He’s starting to make this a habit, isn’t he?” Carlos said, passing her the relish tray.

Sami scooped vegetables on top her bowl of soup and shrugged. “He’s been busy.” She pretended not to see the frown on his face.

“Busy or busy?” Jessa said from across the table. Sami narrowed her eyes and tilted her head in her kids’ direction. They might not look like they were paying attention, but she’d learned the hard way that little ears were connected to big mouths.

Jessa shrugged and shook her head in apology, blonde ringlets dancing around a face that had grown a bit thinner over the last few months. Sami made a mental note to pin the woman down for a girls’ night in sooner rather than later. Her brain reminded her that a girls’ night in wouldn’t likely happen until the term was over.

“You look tired.”

Sami turned her attention to Carlos. “Thanks,” she said wryly. “You know how to make a gal feel good.”

Carlos rolled his eyes. “You know I think you’re most beautiful woman in the world. Not even blind man could resist you.”

Sami laughed at his teasing, letting the warmth of flattery be balanced by her comfort in his friendship. Carlos jerked back and ducked his head. Sami pretended not to see eyes that were suddenly too serious by far. Carlos was a dear friend, a younger brother. Every now and then, though, she felt something decidedly unsisterly towards him.

“Mommy?”

“Do you want more, Archie?”

“No,” he shook his head. “Daddy’s here.”

All laughter left Sami as she followed Archie’s pointed finger. Franklin was unfolding his long body from the sports car he’d purchased shortly after The Announcement. Leave it to Franklin to drive with the top down in December.

Conversation around the table got louder as if all of her friends and co-workers had suddenly found something utterly fascinating to talk about. Sami knew why a moment later when another figure rose from the passenger side of the car. She felt her breaths go shallow.

She pasted a smile on her face and stood. “Your dad’s here, kids. Time to go.”

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Go Team!

A little over a week ago, I put out a call for people to join my street gang – I mean team. (Side note: You do realize if I formed a street gang, we’d all be wearing leather jackets and saying, “Tell me about it stud” while doing our secret “Birth to earth, womb to tomb” handshake. There’s also a high probability of finger snapping and red high heels.)

After reviewing applications, I was able to narrow the selection down to ten amazing ladies. I’m so excited to welcome the inaugural crew of Elementally Awesome:

Sunday B.
Jennifer B.

Julie G.
Sarah G.
Christen F.
Katrina P.
Kirsten P.
Roxanne P.
Cheryl R.
Maxine S.
Alexa V.

(This is the part where I’d be popping champagne corks and pouring glasses of bubbly if, you know, everyone was in the same room.)

I’m so excited to have this amazing group of ladies on staff, so to speak, to help me get the word out. I have so many fun things planned and can’t wait to get started!

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Romance Novels are for Dudes Too

10647191_10205060532105861_4977278825112904127_nThis is my dad.

He grew up running barefoot in the forest of the Ozarks and joining his dad on  moonshine runs across county lines. He has, at different times in his life, rode rodeo, topped trees, worked a farm, cut firewood, hunted for furs, and worked in a factory. He likes his coffee black and boiled and stubbornly ignores the five women in his life as they plead for him to stop smoking. His body is covered in scars from knife fights, he was married four times before he met my mom when he was 27 – once to a Cuban woman who didn’t speak English, which was unfortunate because he didn’t speak Spanish – and was a proud Marine, though he’d say is rather than was because once a Marine always a Marine. He taught his daughters to play poker before they could read, is always armed, and drinks his coffee with a splash of Sailor Jerry.

And he loves romance novels.

He devours them by the dozen, working his way through Sandra Hill, Julia Quinn, Catherine Coulter, Nora Roberts, Christina Dodd, and dozens more even I have never heard of. He sits, with a dog at his feet, his coffee cup resting on the arm of the chair, and a paperback in his hand.

11025132_10205061468849279_6891454684742096596_nHe’s always been a reader; both of my parents are. Growing up, I rarely saw either without a book in their hands. My mom usually read standing up, back to the fireplace and cup of coffee on the mantel. With four kids, she had to steal the time to read and her drug of choice was romance novels.

My dad, however, was all about Westerns and sci-fi. Family legend says that when he rode rodeo, he had two beat up hardback suitcases – one filled with clothes – pearl snap button Western shirts, prized belt buckles, jeans, and the other filled with books. He kept carried a paperback in his back pocket, the binding cracked and the pages rolled to fit, and would lean against a barn wall or tree and read a book while he ate his lunch.

I grew up in a house where reading was our primary past-time and sneaking my mom’s romance novels my one act of rebellion. About ten years or so ago, my mom called me, laughing because Dad, retired and frustrated over the lack of books available to him, had picked up one of hers – a Jude Devereaux Western romance. He’d finished it in hours, announced that it was a damn good story, and proceeded to work his way through her entire collection. When he finished those, he haunted the used book store. When he ran out there, he determined that stealing from his oldest daughter’s collection was appropriate.

10433134_10205060531065835_7118001290583067953_n“A good story is a good story,” he says when anyone questions why a leather tough man would pick up a novel about love.

When it came time to promote Elemental Awakening, my finger hovered over the names of male friends, men who have been supportive of my goals and dreams. I twisted my lips and wondered if I should add them to a romance author’s page, if I should encourage them to read a love story.

Then, I remembered my dad and clicked the button because real men read romance novels.

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Do you want to join my street team?

I’m so excited to announce that I’m currently seeking members for my street team, Elementally Awesome!

(If you’re a long time reader, you knew I’d have to go cheesy with my team name. It’s what I do. New readers, it’s okay. I’m a dork and I’m totally fine with that.)

Between the release of Merry Little Christmas and my debut novel, Elemental Awakening, coming out soon, plus working on the sequel and an outline prepped for another Christmas serial this year, this little blog is starting to pick up speed and I’m so excited to share it with you all. If you feel that you’re someone who would get a kick out of being a bigger part of this world, take a moment and fill out the form. (And if you don’t, it’s totally okay. I mean, I’ll just be standing over here on the side of the gym as team captain while everyone avoids my eyes and pretends they can’t hear me when I try to pick them. Not that that has ever happened. Because, you know, I’ve always been super cool and stuff.)

Oh! And I should also explain. You don’t actually have to walk literal streets. You can do most anything from the comfort of your own home while wearing pajamas and drinking wine. Or whiskey. I won’t judge.

 

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Coming soon!

Something about this time of year makes me want to snug down with a good book and a nice cup of Earl Grey, but with the rush of the holidays upon us, sometimes a shorter story is the way to go. I’m pleased to announce a trio of delightful holiday short stories perfect to read while the turkey is roasting or the pies are baking…

mlc-coverUpon A Midnight Clear, by Angela Amman:

Julia’s high profile divorce left her financially free to do anything she wanted, except fulfill the dreams she lost in an accident a decade before. Something stronger than a whim draws her to a storefront in the nearly forgotten town of Warden’s Bluff, New York, where visions of tiny dancers practicing their pliés under her careful instruction promise to fill that void.

Julia doesn’t deal in tomorrows, but Josh, who keeps crossing her path as Christmas settles over Warden’s Bluff, is the kind of man who just might change her mind… if she’s willing to take a chance on next year.

Star of Wonder, by Cameron D. Garriepy:

Ivy Brennan, former therapist, astronomy enthusiast, and self-declared goat lady is carving out a fresh start for herself in the woods outside Thornton, Vermont. Christmas is coming, but Ivy is more concerned with missing goats and approaching meteor showers.

Sterling West is crashing with his uncle at the family Christmas tree farm since his ex-fiancée sold their apartment out from under him. He’s bagging trees and picking up freelance web design jobs while he figures out what to do next, and where the best stargazing is.

Ivy’s sister, Sterling’s uncle, four goats, and the Geminid meteor shower conspire to bring Sterling and Ivy together as the holiday approaches, but connections neither Ivy nor Sterling are aware of tangle like last-year’s Christmas lights, threatening to trip up their newfound attraction.

The Rarest Gift, by Mandy Dawson

For restaurateurs Sabrina and Mark, dissolving their marriage was simpler than dissolving Buchons’ – the dream Sabrina thought they were building together – but nothing about their separate-but-together existence is easy anymore.

An unlikely angel arrives in Mark’s life while he flirts with culinary self-sabotage. Sabrina explores drastic measures to save the floundering restaurant. Both of them find themselves reflecting on the bitterness that drove them apart, and the sweetness beneath it until a family emergency forces the pair to reevaluate the flavor of partnership, dreams, and love that won’t quit.

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