Friday, August 18, 2017

#FREEBIE #FRIDAY Excerpt from An Outlaw in her Bed by Kastil Eavenshade #Erotic #Western


Today's excerpt is from An Outlaw in her Bed by Kastil Eavenshade.

We hope you enjoy today's tease!

~~~oOo~~~


      After a quick look at the breech to make sure it was loaded, she raced to the front porch. Outside, three men had already approached halfway up the dusty walkway inside the fence. Each wore a pair of pistols on their hips. All had their hands ready to draw. Not one looked the least bit friendly.
Her features hardened as she pointed the shotgun at them. "That's far enough."
The one in the middle laughed. "Oh we're just passing through. Ain't we boys?"
"Then git to passing." She jerked the gun toward the edge of the fence.
He stepped forward. "What? No hospitality for weary travelers?"
The gun bucked in her hands as she squeezed the trigger. She staggered back from the jolt. Dirt sprayed the men from the splatter of the buckshot, but they remained in place.
"You only got one shot left, Ellie."
Ellie froze when the man used that name. She'd left that life behind when Owen swept her off her feet almost ten years ago back in Briar Creek. Her eyes studied the men, and her heart stopped when she recognized each one. Nash, Cody, and Buck. Three men who had attempted to share her bed without payment in her former profession, until her handsome stranger had stopped them.
"You ain't got no business here."
"I believe we do. How far did you think you could run with that preacher? Once a member of the Devil's Addition. Besides you owe us a little comfort."
"I owe you nothing, mister."
Nash hooked his thumbs in his belt and spit to the side. "Where’s your husband? Rumor has it that he's sick with a bout of lead poisoning." He moved closer as Buck and Cody snickered amongst themselves.
A shot rang out behind Ellie, nipping into Nash's boot. He stumbled back.
"The lady asked for you to leave."
Ellie backed to the side of the porch, her mouth agape for a second. Her guest stood in the doorway with her husband's Colt in his hand. Gone was the feeble man. He wore a sheet around his waist to hide his nakedness, the fabric bunched in one hand to keep it from falling. The bandages stretched taut against his well-defined muscles. She noticed the hard icy glare in his eyes — like Death being called from the depths of Hell.
"We're only having a friendly chat about acquiring her many services, same as you." Nash grinned, his hand hovering at his gun.
"Hobble your lip, boy." Her savior cocked back the hammer, his finger tight on the trigger. "Or I'll be leaving you far from above snakes."
Nash curled his fingers around the hilt.
"You unshuck that piece, and I shoot you first." He trained his gun on Nash. "Last chance to absquatulate."
"Come on, boys." Nash stepped back a few paces. "There's plenty of wag-tail at the vaulting house in town." He jerked his head, and the other two followed him back to their horses. Turning at the fence line, he pointed his finger back at Ellie's savoir. "This ain't over."
"Then throw down, boy."
With a sneer, Nash eased into his saddle and spurred his horse.
Ellie watched them leave, her tainted past coming back to haunt her. Owen had rescued her long ago from a life of prostitution. Left broke from a stagecoach robbery when traveling to seek her fortune in the West, she’d had nothing to turn to but an offer from an oily man named Reese Mason, at the Last Stand Saloon in Briar Creek. She'd sold her dignity long ago, and Owen had redeemed her in one magical night. Though their first night together was anything but a quick binding marriage contract, her husband loved her with care afterwards.
Why had these men shown up after all these years? She'd paid her debt, or at least Owen had, to release her from her contract with Mason. She'd seen the money exchange hands. Ellie had a feeling that wasn't the last altercation with those men.
Turning to thank her guest, she found him flat on the floor. Austin was behind him wringing his hands.
“I couldn’t hold him up any more, Ma.”
"It's okay, Austin. Help me get him back into bed."
Who is this mysterious man? And why is he tempting the devil in me?


Thursday, August 17, 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Roane Publishing Contracts Sharon Hughson and REALITY EVER AFTER #Contemporary #Romance #NovellaNiblets

Roane Publishing is pleased to announce that we have contracted REALITY EVER AFTER by Sharon Hughson. This is the third novella in her Virtual Match Series and is slated for release in January 2018.

More information regarding the release, including the Cover Reveal and Release Blitz will be made available shortly.

If you are a book blogger or reviewer interested in participating in the marketing events surrounding the release of REALITY EVER AFTER, please take a moment to join our Blogger Reviewer team by visiting our website (www.RoanePublishing.com) and completing the interest form.

~The Roane Publishing Team

Friday, August 11, 2017

#FREE on #Kindle LOVE'S SORROW by @TerriRochenski #Historical #Romance


LOVE'S SORROW IS FREE FROM NOW UNTIL TUESDAY, AUG. 15TH!



Love's Sorrow
Means of Mercy #1
Historical Romance Novel
by Terri Rochenski

Hired as a nanny for her cousin’s children, poor English rose, Anne Tearle finds security and a loving family. The children are a dream, but London society is a world of its own, one where a displaced farm girl has no business being. But, wealthy Scottish rake, Gavin MacKay, helps her to see associating with the upper class might not be as horrid as she first assumed.

Like all things worthwhile, love comes at a price, and the cost soon bestows more anguish than joy. Lost, but not undone, Anne must find the courage to begin life anew, or succumb to sorrow's unrelenting waves of grief.



#FREEBIE #FRIDAY Excerpt from SOUL OF DUST by Adam Millard #UF #Paranormal #Demons


Today's excerpt is from Soul of Dust by Adam Millard.
We hope you enjoy today's tease!

~~~oOo~~~

The explosion went off just behind me, sending me sprawling forward. My face grazed the floor as I fell, but my right shoulder took most of the impact. My ears rang as my legs came over the top of me. Now, I’m not the most flexible of guys, so when a foot goes past my head wearing one of my boots, I know I’m in a spot of bother. I managed to convert the twisted somersault into a roll that would hurt a lot less when I landed. It still hurt, but at least I didn’t have a broken neck. The last one of those had been a nightmare to heal.

The heat from the blast scorched at my back and legs. For a moment, I thought my ass was literally aflame, and I reached around and began patting myself down. The sound of my attacker’s boots on the concrete somewhere behind me reminded me that I needed to act fast, lest I be finished by a follow-up assault.

I quickly clambered to my feet and turned to face the street. A small fire raged twenty or so feet away. I’d been blown halfway down the road by the explosion. The unmistakable stench of magic drifted through the air on a steady breeze. I didn’t know where I was looking, or what I was looking for, but my attacker was still out there, watching from the shadows, preparing to strike again. I could sense them, could feel the power emanating from them. I’ve been doing this long enough to know when I’m up against a formidable opponent. The sonofabitch that had tried to dust me was no amateur.

I glanced down at my hand and realised I was already holding Phoenix. That was a good thing. It meant my instincts were working just fine. I must have pulled the wand out on my way through the air. And yet I hadn’t sensed the danger. I’d been too busy thinking about Maria West, about her new boyfriend, who may or may not be a wolf, vampire, or daemon.

I stepped off the kerb and crouched behind a parked Volvo. I needed to get my bearings, or at least wait until the damn ringing in my ears went away.

Who would want to kill me?

Stupid question, really. There weren’t too many Jack Bridge fan-clubs out there. I could count on one hand the people who actually enjoyed my company—and still have fingers left over—but it had been a while since someone had taken a pot-shot at me. If I was human, I’d have been nursing my feelings in that moment.

A bright light flashed to my left, and the Volvo I’d been crouching—cowering?— behind leapt into the air. I managed to roll away just as the vehicle came down, two tonne of twisted steel. I didn’t stop moving until I hit the wall of some industrial building.

I turned and my attacker rush past a row of parking meters. They were quick, but not quick enough. I brought Phoenix up and yelled, “Ignis!” A bright orange stream of pure energy burst from my wand, lighting up the entire street, singeing anything it came into contact with. The torrent of power arced down on my enemy. I can’t tell you the joy I felt when the dark cowl they were wearing burst into flames. The scorching heat didn’t stop them, though, or even slow them down. The assailant disappeared around the corner of a disused bowling alley.

When someone tries to kill you, and fails, it’s probably best to chalk it up as a small victory and move on with life. I couldn’t do that. I like to know who my enemies are. Nine times out of ten they’re people I’ve already met, spoken to, which doesn’t say a lot for my people skills.

I jogged—the explosion had taken some of the va-va-voom out of me—across the street, mindful that the last attack had come from seemingly nowhere. I didn’t think there was more than one of them, but you could never be too careful. Another one of those blasts, and I’d be shedding charred skin for the next month or so.

As I reached the corner, the acrid tang of burnt flesh stung my nostrils. That was a good thing. I’d inflicted some damage.

With my back to the wall, I quickly stuck my head out and back again. I was glad to find it still attached to my neck when I did. Slowly, I edged around the building, and that’s when the smoking pile on the concrete, not ten feet away, came into view.

My attacker’s cloak. A thick, grey cloud of smoke billowed up from the garment, and I knew in that moment the damage would have been severe enough to mark my assailant.

Good. Fuck ‘em. Hope I carbonised the sonofabitch.

The smoking cloak, though, was all that remained. Now that I could hear again, I tuned my senses in, focused on the area directly in front of me, the only possible escape route of my cowardly assassin. I didn’t have to adjust my mind too much before I heard the unsteady gait of an injured asshole. The footfalls were moving away, back toward the city.

I blew out a huge breath and pulled the water from my pocket. As I sipped, I scanned the street. The small fire in the middle of the road. The crumpled mess that was once someone’s pride and joy, the smouldering cloak.

I needed sleep more than junkies need a fix.

I didn’t hang around any longer than necessary, but once the cloak stopped smoking I picked it up and tucked it into my trench. Did I mention I have one of the most expensive microscopes on the market?

Monday, August 7, 2017

New Release: Must Love Fashion by Deborah Garland #Contemporary #Romance @RoanePublishing #Giveaway


HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY TO
MUST LOVE FASHION!



Must Love Fashion
Contemporary Romance
By Deborah Garland
Release Date: August 7, 2017

Keywords: Contemporary, Romance, Novel, Fashion, Widower, Model, Second Chance

Gwendolyn Mallory has landed her dream job. After years at a small fashion retailer, she’s been given a chance to show off her public relations skills for a major brand. What woman wouldn’t be excited to work for Prada in New York City?

Former male model turned Prada Brand Manager, Andrew Morgan is ready to move on with his life—his wife passed away from cancer fifteen months ago. Even though he and Gwen share an initial fiery spark, getting involved with a co-worker has always been on Andrew’s to-don’t list.

The weeks leading up to an L.A. fashion show bring Andrew and Gwen closer to the flame. At night, she dreams of this tall handsome man taking her on his desk. And Andrew is having a hard time keeping his own fantasies under control. But when one of the designers vies for Gwen’s affections, Andrew is awash with jealousy. And out of excuses.

After the show, they share an intense, passionate kiss and some killer heavy petting in one of the dressing rooms. And in her bed, Gwen brings out the man Andrew used to be, wild and hungry. But in the afterglow of their bliss, Andrew learns Gwen has been hiding something about her health. Unable to deal with all that pain again, he leaves.

During a business trip to Milan, Gwen and Andrew give into the heat still smoldering between them. Then Gwen finds out she’s about to be transferred to Italy. Andrew doesn’t want to hold her back from such a great opportunity, but he can’t live without her. He proposes in hopes of keeping her in New York, with him.

What woman wouldn’t be excited to marry a devilishly handsome man in a Prada wedding gown?


~~~oOo~~~

EXCERPT:
It was a secret Gwen would keep throughout the day. A secret for her and Andrew to share.
Gwen and Andrew… That did have a nice ring to it.
“So, he takes up a lot of oxygen in the room, doesn’t he?” Andrew pushed on one of his knees and stood.
“Salvatore’s all showy though.” Gwen fingered the skirt and swooshed the fabric back and forth.
“Do you prefer a man who is more subtle?”
It was the first time he’d dared to ask her personal preferences for a mate, and before he could retract his question or dilute it, she said firmly, “Yes, on the surface.” And smoldering underneath. Like you Andrew.
He stepped a few inches away. “I’m still concerned all the attention will be on you in that dress.” He held his chin, smooth and fresh.
“I was planning on wearing my hair up.” She gathered a handful of waves and swept them away from her face. But when he only stared at her bracelets as they clanged together, she let the bundle fall. “Or—”
“No. No.” The words caught in his throat. His fingers brushed past her cheek, lifting the hair off her shoulders again. “This is perfect.”
Yes, it is perfect. And he should be kissing her by now. Those amazing lips, pink and full on hers...and on other parts of her body, making her feel alive.
His eyes bore into hers, but he said nothing. Gwen preferred to not have to make the first move. How would she know if Andrew really wanted her in the first place, and wasn’t just taking advantage of a willing partner? But how long could she wait for him, before a crazy impulse took hold of her?
“I guess it’s settled. I’m wearing my hair up tomorrow,” she whispered, locking eyes with him.
He cleared his throat and stepped back, letting her hair fall. The weight of so many waves warmed her skin, even though she preferred the heat coming off his body. She stepped back as well and slipped into co-worker mode. “Andrew, be honest. Is this dress…too much? I prefer clothes that are simple and classic. Conservative even.”
“I would call you classic, Gwen. But not simple. You wear our clothes beautifully.” He ran his hand over the suit jacket she had draped on a desk chair. “The way they sit on you tells a story of…of the woman we know other women want to be.”
The compliment left her breathless. “Thank you, Andrew.”
“No, Gwen. I want to thank you.” His shoulders softened. “I need you to know, I couldn’t have done this without you.”
“That’s not true.” She swiped at eyes she suspected were shiny with tears, she wouldn’t let fall. Better to be respected as an equal, and not thought of as a weepy lightweight. “You’ve run plenty of these shows.”
“Yes, and I know what it takes to pull this off. There was no way I could have done what you’ve done…for this show.” He ran a hand through his hair, his wedding band was—gone!
The sight took Gwen’s own breath away. She twisted her hair to the side, to keep her hands busy. “Did you want to do one final walk through for tomorrow?”
“No. We’re set.” He bent down to the pick up the shoebox. His back straightened, emphasizing his dramatic height.
She moved toward Andrew to hug him. Immediately there was a different feel to his touch from the night of their first drink. The night when everything had turned around. And upside down. His fingers pressed into her skin. His body molded against hers. Oh, the smell of him, musky and woodsy. Masculine. There it was, his heart, beating wildly. There was so much of this man, his heart must work so hard to pump his rich blood through so many veins.
The feel of his grip softening, meant it was time for her to let go. “Have a good night Andrew.” She touched his hands and leaned upward for a kiss on the cheek. The edge of his mouth—warm and tender as she remembered—caught the corner of her lips. Tickle, Tickle went her stomach.
A strand of her long hair caught in his collar, binding them together for a brief moment. Creating a bridge that could bring them together…if someone was brave enough to cross.

~~~oOo~~~

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Deborah Garland is a former computer and sports journalist, turned romance and women’s fiction author. She likes to write about love and the struggles of complicated relationships. Her heroines are strong, and the heroes fall hard for them. She lives on the North Shore of Long Island with her husband and when she’s not writing, she’s either in the gym, or reading, cuddled up with their two pugs, Zoe and Harley.

LINKS


~~~oOo~~~

GIVEAWAY!
A $10 Roane Publishing Gift Card



Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use a RoanePublishing.com Gift Code.  No purchase necessary, but you must be 18 or older to enter. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter, and announced on the widget. Winner well be notified by emailed and have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. The number of entries received determines the odds of winning. This giveaway was organized by Roane Publishing's marketing department.

Friday, August 4, 2017

#FlashFiction Friday Beyond Diljan by Terri Rochenski #Fantasy #FFF @TerriRochenski

Beyond Diljan

by Terri Rochenski


The only human to escape our neighboring city to the west arrived at Diljan’s gate bearing a terrible promise; the Yindi and their mages would arrive on the morrow.

“I run my horse right aground, I did.” He paused to guzzle ale from the tankard in his shaking hands. 
“The rumors be true and more horrible than you can imagine.”

I watched through the kitchen’s cracked door as the man recounted the visions he’d seen to the other patrons of my father’s inn. Merchants, farmers, and common dock laborers all hunched over their drinks, their eyes wide with fear.

“They kill with fire from their fingertips an’ eat the burnt corpses. They ain’t leaving nothing behind.” The rider gulped again. “May be why they came to our world – they needs food.”

Shiver bumps raced across my skin.

“Get yer dark head away from that door, Master Kemen,” Cook hissed at me, “and finish scrubbin’ those pots.”

“Rider’s talking about the Yindi and their magic,” I whispered over my shoulder. “Says they gobble up the dead.”

Cook paled. “Don’t you worry none, boy. The men will defend us proper.”

Voices raised in the common room. I stuck my head out the door.

“Can’t escape by ship. There ain’t a one left!”

“None’s docked in over a fortnight!”

“Cuz there ain’t no humans left but us! What we gunna do?”

“Enough!” A merchant shouted and stood to his feet. “Diljan has twenty-foot high walls. We are not defenseless!”

“The King’s city was overrun in two hours time,” the rider said. “These here walls don’t stand half high as his.”

“Mere rumors,” the merchant insisted. “We must believe the best. I’m off to find out Lord Sidon’s defense plans. Who’s with me?” He strode out the inn’s door and all but one patron followed.

The lone farmer’s head lay on the wooden table before him. A snore ripped from his throat.

“Kemen!”

I hurried into the common room. “Yes, father?”

He stared out the door at the crush of people on the cobbled street. I’d heard it said earlier that evening that our population had tripled in the last week. “Go upstairs and get a travel pack together. I’m taking you and your sister to the salt caves.”

I frowned. “But I’m twelve now. Old enough to fight.”

He turned, his eyes sad. “I know, son, but your sister needs protecting. Go now.”

The gatekeepers called father a crazy man, but they didn’t stop us from leaving. He led Mahlah and me up into the hills that overlooked the city. Till we reached our destination it was past midnight. He made a bed of blankets inside the entrance of the deep cavern for my little sister and me to share. Mahlah fell asleep immediately. I stood with father under the moon.

He pulled a short dagger from his belt and grasped my shoulder with his free hand. “I want you to take this. There may come a time tomorrow when you’ll need it.”

“You’re not staying?”

“I must stand with those below on the morrow. If we fail,” his eyes misted over, “I need you to be a man. Take your sister and go to the Beyond.”

My stomach heaved. “I’m not a coward, father.”

“I know, son. But if no miracle occurs, t’would be better to be free.” He hugged me tight and walked away.

I crawled under the blanket beside Mahlah and cuddled close to her warm body. Her blonde curls glowed in the moon’s cold light, and her dark lashes fluttered on pink, apple cheeks. She was beautiful just like mother had been.

I blinked back childish tears. Much as I missed mother, I wasn’t ready to see her again just yet.



***
We watched the battle from beneath the brush on the highest hill. The city below us was crowded with trampled bodies, the Yindi monsters, and shrieking pillars of fire that used to be human. The clash of steel and the cries of the hurt echoed through the valley. The stink of my fear was overpowered by the acrid smoke of burning flesh that rode on the breeze.

The early morning sun glinted off the silver spikes sticking from the Yindis’ bald heads. They were massive beasts with glowing blades that lopped off heads and stabbed the wailing wounded. Mages in cowled scarlet robes cast ropes of black lightening form their palms. The unlucky humans in their paths ignited in flashes of violet sparks. Orbs of blue flame were hurled and burnt all in the paths. The dead were devoured where they lay.

The grooves of the dagger’s hilt dug into my palm. I glanced down at the dull metal. I had the courage to run down the hill and fight like a man, but did I have enough to do as father had said?

Mahlah watched the horror below with wide eyes, her limbs trembling. Tears rolled down her cheeks.

“I want father,” she whimpered.

I grasped her hand in mine. I wouldn’t allow the Yindi monsters to have her. I would take her to the Beyond where mother awaited us first.

I could see one last group of humans huddled together in the city square. Mages and the towering Yindi surrounded them. My hope faded as black lightening flew from fingertips and pierced each chest. As one the last of our people slumped to the ground.

My eyes burned. My throat ached.

“Come,” I whispered to my little sister. “It is time we left this place.”

She stumbled after me as I led her deeply into the cave. The freedom of death called and the darkness would make my burden easier.

~~~oOo~~~

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Terri started writing stories in the eighth grade when a little gnome whispered in her brain. Gundi’s Great Adventure never hit the best seller list, but it started a long love affair with storytelling.

Today she enjoys an escape to Middle Earth during the rare ‘me’ moments her three young children allow. When not potty training or kissing boo-boos, she can be found sprawled on the couch with a book or pencil in hand, and toothpicks propping her eyelids open.



If you've got a Flash Fiction story and wish to submit it for our Flash Fiction Friday, please visit the SUBMISSIONS PAGE.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Book Reviews: Devil or Delight? #GuestPost by @SharonLHughson #WritersLife

Book Reviews: Devil or Delight?

by Sharon Hughson

As an author, I adore book reviews. Without them, Amazon won’t suggest my books to readers. But many authors hate reviews too.

Why the disparity? If we must have them to rank with Amazon’s algorithms, then why don’t we love them?

Because asking someone to review our work opens the doors to *gasp* criticism.

In June, I participated in a review event and garnered ten new reviews for Reality Meets its Match, the first book in my Virtual Match sweet romance series. Out of those, only one was for five stars.
I must be a horrible writer if readers didn’t give me five stars.

Some authors think that way. Every review should be positive, or they’ll curl into the fetal position and sob for an hour.

Why does a less-than-glowing review affect them so?

Because it’s difficult to separate self from our work. And the negative review feels a little like a personal attack.

I promise you that I’ve reviewed hundreds of books on Goodreads, and very few of my reviews accompany a five-star rating. Am I a hard-to-please reader? No, I’m a hard to impress reader.

Roll your cursor over the stars on Goodreads sometime when you’re getting ready to offer a rating. This is what they mean: five stars=it was amazing; four stars=really liked it; three stars=liked it; two stars=it was okay and one star=did not like it. (On Amazon reviewers are supposed to be more generous.)

With this rating system, that means every reader liked my book, except those who gave it one star. And I’ve never gotten a one-star review…yet.

The reason I don’t give many five-star ratings? I don’t read very many amazing books. Nearly every book I read has flaws (or what I consider weaknesses). I always give reasons for my lower ratings, and if people who read the review don’t care about those issues, they will still be encouraged to read the book.

Reviews are for readers.

Yes, as an author I want you to read my book and love it, then tell all your friends how amazing it is and convince them to buy a copy.

But I’m a realist. I understand my stories aren’t for everyone. For example, one reviewer mentioned the heroine of Reality Meets its Match was almost mean, and she didn’t like her very much.
Well, Ronnie has very good reasons for holding others at arm’s length. And guess what? By the end of the series, this reader will see a new and improved, and maybe even lovable, Ronnie. Of course, she might not read the other books because of her impression of Ronnie in the first book. Or maybe, she’ll see in the reviews of Reality Bites (book two) that Ronnie’s past is revealed and she’s softening toward the idea of falling in love.

Yes, I’d love to have mostly five-star reviews, but I think readers prefer to see a spectrum of star-ratings. It’s more believable to see that not everyone loved the book, and when readers explain WHY they took away a star (or two), that helps the next reader make an informed decision before they click the BUY button.

I’m an author who only sees the delight aspect of reviews.

Usually, I don’t even pay attention to my reviews. I’m too busy writing the next story.

I read the reviews during the event in June because I’d paid to participate and wanted to know if I was getting my money’s worth. If I’d been buying five-star reviews, the answer would be NO, but since I wanted ten honest reviews, I got my money’s worth.

In fact, I agreed with the three- and four-star reviewers’ comments that the ending of Reality Meets its Match was a little abrupt. It wasn’t meant to be a stand-alone story as much as an introduction to Ronnie and Marcus and the writing style of Sharon Hughson.

Go ahead and pick up Reality Bites, I urge them. And don’t fret too much over the ending there because I’m busily writing up the happily-ever-after Ronnie and Marcus deserve.

Do you leave reviews? Do you read reviews before buying a book? Authors, do you read all the reviews of your works?

~~~oOo~~~

About the Author: 

Translating wind-whispered concertos into fiction, Sharon Hughson writes romance and young adult fantasy, living out her lifetime dream and calling it “a job.” After being saved by The Chronicles of Narnia as a teenager, S.L. decided escaping reality alone isn’t nearly as delightful as sharing those make-believe worlds with friends. To that end, she invites you to enter her story realm and fall in love all over again.

Even after twenty-some years married to her high school sweetheart, she enjoys the hearts-a-flutter rush from a well-told romantic tale. S.L. resides in Oregon with her husband, sons and three cats.

You can find more of her imaginative tales at www.sharonleehughson.com.







Friday, July 28, 2017

#FREEBIE #FRIDAY Excerpt from FEATHERS by T.E. Hodden #Romance #Military


Today's excerpt is from Feathers by T.E. Hodden, part of the
Hearts of Valor anthology.

We hope you enjoy today's tease!

~~~oOo~~~

The hospital was haunted by the living. Men in bandages and pyjamas seemed to drift through the oak clad corridors and the airy wards with tall windows, light paint, and the constant lingering smell of surgical spirits and bandages. Behind the stiff upper lips, and the forced jollity, there were men (and too many boys) who looked lost.

Archie was sat on a bed. He lit up like a lime light in the theatre when he saw Billie. His chirpy face glowing as he locked eyes with her. He sat up in his bed and waved her over. Kerry watched the smile growing on Billie. It was like her heart was thawing. Pride, joy, relief, and sorrow all mingled, as she let out a giggle, that became a laugh. She hurried over to him.

Sam touched Kerry's arm, he was nodding at some of the other men from his regiment. They lingered back for a moment, as Archie and Billie shared their first, precious few words together. They watched the reunion from afar.

“Sammy!” One of the living ghosts hopped down from a bed. His arm was in a sling, half his face hidden by bandages. “What are you doing back here?”

“Archie sent word. I had to come check on the lads, didn't I Sarge.” Sam patted the shoulder of the staunch looking soldier.

“So which of these is Mrs Sam?” The Sergeant said, straightening up to a parade ground posture.

“Wendy.” Wendy said, offering her hand. “But we are still engaged.”

“Oh. So poor Sam is still waiting on tickets to Gretna Green, eh?” The Sergeant beamed.

“And this is our good friend Kerry.” Wendy added.

“Sarge, what happened?” Sam said, his voice low.

“We had a bit of a push. It turned nasty.” The sergeant was choosing his words carefully, keenly aware of the ladies present. “We got caught in a tight spot, and the shells pummelled us.”

“What about Chris?” Kerry said.

The sergeant looked at her. There were a few Christophers in his care.

“The Professor.” Sam said.

“Oh.” The sergeant nodded. His smile was grave. “He'll live too.”

“He's here?” Kerry said.

The sergeant looked to an empty bed. He stroked his moustache in thought. “Probably in the gardens.”

“Go on.” Sam said, ushering her away as he followed the sergeant.

Kerry walked through the ward, following the shuffling fellows on their way to the garden. The morning was bleak and cold, under a cloudless sky the colour of dust. The skeletal trees cast long shadows over the trim lawn painted with silver. The winter sun was swollen and bright, low in the sky. For a moment Kerry just stood and watched the tide of people ambling and strolling through the gardens, trying to let slip their burdens.

She could not see Christopher among them. She saw a cluster of familiar figures gathered around the small pond. They were jostling and playing as they always had. They looked like they could have still been in short trousers, kicking a ball around the alley, or chalking cricket stumps on a fence.

But Christopher was not among them.