Friday, April 28, 2017

#FREEBIE #FRIDAY Excerpt LOVE'S SORROW by Terri Rochenski #Historical #Romance


Today's excerpt is from Love's Sorrow, Means of Mercy #1, by Terri Rochenski. 

We hope you enjoy today's tease!

~~~oOo~~~

The sound of the front door closing and male voices drifted through the drawing room’s open entryway.

“It sounds as though the Scot has finally arrived,” Samuel said.

Joanna had shared little about her husband’s friend other than he was beyond affluent. In my vivid imagination, I envisioned him an older, stuffy man who looked down upon those less fortunate than him. Upon meeting Mr. Hall and Mr. Dixon, I expected Mr. MacKay would be unsightly as well. Perhaps a wart on his bulbous nose—maybe bulging eyes. At least a bald head covered with beads of sweat. Certainly, his girth would match his height.

“Mr. MacKay,” Wells announced to the room.

Standing with the other ladies, I turned.

With self-assurance and confidence in every step, the black-haired gentleman I dreamed of strode through the door. The blood drained from my face, but hastened to return and flush my cheeks. My heart abandoned its desire to beat within the constraints of my tight corset and my mind melted into nothingness.

He bid greeting to everyone in turn, shaking the men’s hands and kissing the women’s. It seemed an eternity before his chiselled face moved towards me.

My knees knocked as I turned dumb as a washtub.

“Mr. MacKay, I’d like to introduce to you my cousin, Miss Anne Tearle, just arrived from the Black Country.”

I barely heard Joanna’s voice through the ringing in my ears as recognition lit within his eyes.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Miss Tearle.” Thick lashed black eyes looked into my soul and right down to my toes.

All ten of them tingled.

“H-How do you do?” I managed to squeak out.

He took my gloved hand and touched it to his lips. My gulp sounded loud in my own ears, and heat coursed through me.

“I am pleasantly surprised,” he murmured, his warm gaze—one I didn’t comprehend—searching my face. A sudden smile flashed perfect white teeth, and he pivoted away to join the men.

My lungs sucked in air tinted with a hint of spice.

Monday, April 24, 2017

New Release: A SYMPHONY OF HEART STRINGS by T.E. Hodden #Romance #Paranormal


HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY TO
A SYMPHONY OF HEART STRINGS!


A Symphony of Heart Strings
Paranormal Romance
By T.E. Hodden
Release Date: April 24, 2017
Publisher: Roane Publishing

Keywords: Paranormal, Romance, Urban Fantasy, Contemporary, London, Novella Niblets

Meet Bob. Bob is the guy between the lines of every love story you ever met. The lucky chance, the twist of fate, the astounding coincidence that sets sparks flying. Never seen, but always there.

Today Bob is assigned to help Jenny find love. But there is something more than bad luck working against the quirky librarian. Bob might have to save her life, before he can help her find love.

And he can't do that from the shadows....


~~~oOo~~~

EXCERPT:


Time for a practical demonstration…
I step into a sandwich shop. It is busy with the lunch hour rush. Jimmy sits at one of the tables, staring into his book, and trying not to think. He is a heavy guy, big and round with jowls and a frown. His connection to the Loom is worn thin, and a lot of his strings play sour, dull, notes. He is nearly forty, but has never been kissed and never known that warm fuzzy glow in his chest.
What he has known is shame, self-doubt, and fear. Whenever he has felt his heart crack open, he has been trained to think it is unnatural and shameful. People like him were the butts of jokes, when he was a kid. Most the people he hang around still use “queer” and “gay” as a shorthand for worthless and disgusting. He has spent too long burying his feelings, and now believes that they make him less of a man, and less of a human..
There is a girl at his office who likes him. She is friendly and flirty. He responds politely, but is so convinced of his self-image that he thinks she is quietly mocking him. He sees no malice in her, but he thinks there is gentle teasing at his expense.
Kelly is in the queue. He is waiting on a chicken and avocado baguette to go with his bottle of soda. He is thirty-nine, tall, burly, and jolly. He has a kind laugh and gets on with everybody in the office. He recognises Jimmy. They bump into each other in the office kitchen, making coffees. They talk about cricket and football while waiting on the kettle.
Jimmy nods for Kelly to join him. They joke about the latest email from head office. The "Fair culture flowchart" is a policy that spends three thousand words telling them, in essence, not to be dicks.
Neither men see me standing by their table. I pluck the string that binds them. It plays a sweet note, made heavy by Jimmy's doubts. I knock his drink into his lap. Jimmy squawks in surprise and Kelly drops to his knees, mopping at Jimmy's lap with napkins. Jimmy panics at the touch.
"Hey. Let me." Jimmy laughs a little. "If you don't mind where you put your hands, you will do something you will regret."
I stoop down to Kelly's ear and whisper, "Will you?"
Kelly gives a dirty laugh. "I wouldn't regret it. Would you?"
For a moment they hold each other's gazes.


~~~oOo~~~

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


T. E. Hodden trained in engineering, and works in the rail industry. He writes as a hobby, when he is not walking the Kent coast, looking for forgotten nooks and crannies of history and folklore.
LINKS:
Facebook: http://facebook.com/tehodden


GIVEAWAY!
A $10 Roane Publishing Gift Card

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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, April 21, 2017

#FREEBIE #FRIDAY Excerpt from THINGS MYSTERIOUS by Matthew Chabin #PNR


Today's excerpt is from Things Mysterious by Matthew Chabin. 

We hope you enjoy today's tease!

~~~oOo~~~

He had been a soldier once, a husband and, before that, a student athlete. Now he was none of these things. He felt transparent, unseen, a rumor of a person fading into an anonymous job, a name on a paystub, a collection of internet passwords: Rom@nKing, Aces’n8s, D-stroystory. No one ever called him D, or Das, or even Dasan anymore. He no longer looked forward to his days off and took extra shifts just to fill his time. Easier that way. Better not to sit around and think.

 “Twelfth floor.”

He stepped out of the elevator and turned a corner into the Dawkins and Dewey law offices. He paused long enough at the counter to write the time in his notebook and scan the front pages of the Oregonian and the New York Times. Then he started down another hallway, passed through a door, climbed a short flight of steps to a landing, where he used his keys to open two more doors, and stepped out onto the rooftop.

The wind had fallen off, but a thick fog had rolled in behind it. Dasan could faintly make out the poniard spire of the First Presbyterian Church with its purple floodlights. If he peered over the rail, he could also see the illuminated signs of Spartacus Leathers and Powel’s City of Books in the street below. The hills to the west were completely swallowed up, so the city seemed to terminate in a heaped darkness. The monolithic, fifty-story Wells Fargo Center vanished into the grey heights as though dissolved by a malignant, alien atmosphere, while to the south, rising from the new construction, a giant crane hung its long neck out into the gloom, predatory in its stillness.

Something was wrong.

Something was wrong with his life. He was about to turn thirty and he had the same salary as when he was eighteen. That wasn’t even adjusting for inflation. His parents had somehow, to their eternal credit, stayed together until he was out of the house, but both were invested in their respective new families, and he’d become a marginal satellite at best.

He had always had an image of himself as the kind of guy that nice, cool girls would be into. He was considerate, industrious, tall (if a bit gangly), good looking and fairly neat in his habits. Yet since his divorce, he seemed all but invisible to women, as if they occupied a parallel universe where he appeared only as an outline, a faceless abstract of man. He was all crumpled inside, sapped, unable to summon much enthusiasm for the dating ritual and apparently even less able to inspire it. He had begun to contemplate the very real possibility he would go through life without ever finding his—what was it?—‘soul’s counterpart in another.’ He would live an uncelebrated life and ultimately die alone.

There was something else. Something that pulled like a thread unraveling at the back of his mind and sent cold little oscillations of fear rippling through his nerves. He didn’t know what it was that pulled upon the thread, but it was becoming harder and harder to ignore. It tugged away as he looked down on the numb and half-frozen city, He stepped back, gripped by a nauseating vertigo. Reflexively his mind flew to the single beacon within range, a spark of color that drew his focus and gave him hope. The girl on the MAX, Ms. There-Again-Gone.

God, but God… how beautiful was she.


Thursday, April 20, 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Roane Publishing Contracts Jaylee Austin and EMERALD'S RING #Fantasy

Roane Publishing is pleased to announce that we have contracted EMERALD'S RING by Jaylee Austin. This is the second in her Sedona Series and is slated for release in October 2017.

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 EMERALD'S RING, 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

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Cover Reveal: IN GRAY by Sara J. Bernhardt #NAlit #NA #Paranormal #Romance


In Gray
by Sara J. Bernhardt
Publisher: Roane Publishing
Release Date: July 10, 2017

Keywords: New Adult, Paranormal, Romance, Clairvoyant

Blurb:

After a car accident causes Daisy Carmichael to see the future, she is plagued by not only the things she sees but the deadly secrets of the young man who saved her life.

~~~oOo~~~



Sign ups for In Gray release blitz are now open!
If you're interested in hosting, please click on the image above or fill in the form.


Friday, April 14, 2017

#FREEBIE #FRIDAY Excerpt from MORGAN'S MOUNTAIN by Krista Ames #Romance


Today's excerpt is from Morgan's Mountain by Krista Ames. 

We hope you enjoy today's tease!

~~~oOo~~~


Since she was ignoring him, Luke wandered outside while contemplating how he would win over the woman he thought he knew so well. He’d noticed a huge stack of uncut logs from the kitchen window, and figured he needed something to do. What better way to take out his frustration?

He lined up three huge chunks and got to swinging, then made a stack beside the porch at the back door.

On his upswing of cutting the next batch of logs, a voice came out of nowhere. “What are you doing now?”

 “I needed something to do. Looks like Bill didn’t get a chance to cut wood for you.” He tried not to look in her direction and continued swinging the axe. As she mumbled inexplicably, he could tell she was getting closer by the volume of her voice, and when he sneaked a peak, he could make out her features faintly through the driving snow.

She was just a little scrap of a thing, five feet and two inches, if that, but she’d sure argue another inch or two out of anybody willing to listen. He’d always loved her height. She fit just right in the crook of his shoulder when he wrapped his arms around her. He couldn’t see it now for all the winter Carharts, but she had beautiful shiny black hair that fell past her shoulders when it wasn’t up in a ponytail, and eyes the color of smoky emeralds a person could melt into. Unfortunately, she also had a temper bigger than the Rocky Mountains, and she seemed ready and willing to prove it.

“Did you come out to help me? That was mighty kind of you.” Luke couldn’t help but egg her on.

“No, I did not come out to help you. I was supposed to be doing this.”

She’s mad because I’m cutting wood?

He smirked at her stance. She’d placed both hands on her hips and, if the snow weren’t so deep, he’d be able to see her foot tapping.

“What’s so funny? Do you think this is all a game?”

“I’m sorry, okay? You just look too darn cute standing there.”

She rolled her eyes and turned to walk away.

Luke dropped the ax and ran around her, stopping her progression when he clasped her shoulders. “No, wait, seriously. I’m sorry. If you want me to stop chopping so you can finish, I will, but I was just trying to help. At least let me do this, Morgan.” He raised a pleading eyebrow and dropped his hands to his sides.

“Fine. I’m going back inside. I have other things to do.” She turned from him, heading toward the cabin. “Oh, Luke?”

She had faded slightly from his sight, but he could still see the look she gave brooked no argument. “Please keep your distance. Letting you do this doesn’t change anything.”

“Whatever you say.”

He smirked and, once she was out of sight completely, pulled down his facemask and picked up the ax again.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

NEW #SUBMISSIONS CALL! One Snowy Night #Contemporary #Sweet #Romance

Roane Publishing is seeking submissions for our upcoming sweet romance anthology, ONE SNOWY NIGHT! This will be the first in four planned anthologies to release in 2018 celebrating the seasons.




Theme: Contemporary sweet romance with a winter theme. Winter is a time for sled and sleigh rides, hot chocolate, and snowball fights. Bring us your sweet, winter-time themed romance stories. We are looking for anything from back to school friends to lovers tales, to budding romance at the local ski resort. Anything that keeps to the winter theme is acceptable. At least ONE scene of the story needs to take place on a 'snowy night'. 

Submission Deadline: June 30, 2017
  • Must be a contemporary sweet romance based in some way on the prompt and include a HEA or HFN ending.
  • Stories must be at least 15k in length, but should be no more than 20k
  • Sweet romance ONLY, no erotic romance.
  • No fantasy or holiday themed stories please.
  • No reprints or sim subs

Please email a brief query letter along with your completed, polished manuscript (double spaced, Times New Roman size 12, no TABS or spaces indenting paragraphs) to submissions@roanepublishing.com and put WINTER_ANTHO in the SUBJECT LINE of your email.

Completed stories should be attached in TXT, RTF, DOC, or DOCX format ONLY and attached to your query email. All other attachment file types will be deleted unopened.

If you do not receive a reply by July 7th, please follow-up by email at editor@roanepublishing.com. Do not send your submissions to this address. They will be deleted unopened.

Monday, April 10, 2017

New Release: SHOW NO WEAKNESS by Joyce M. Holmes #Contemporary #Romance @RoanePublishing




HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY TO
SHOW NO WEAKNESS!



Show No Weakness
Contemporary Romance Novel
By Joyce M. Holmes
Publisher: Roane Publishing
Release Date: April 10, 2017


She’s a tenderhearted social worker, looking for her Happy-Ever-After. He’s a distrustful RCMP Corporal who’s sworn off relationships. Factor in a surly teen heading for delinquency, and you have a case of passion and turmoil too explosive to handle.

As a defense mechanism to deal with his guilt and grief over his daughter's death, Cole Dennison has become an expert at compartmentalizing his feelings. He keeps his personal life private, while making it his professional mission to rescue children in peril.

Joely Sinclair is fiercely protective and openly compassionate. When she meets Cole Dennison, she falls hard. He's everything she admires in a man, and because she wears her heart on her sleeve, she can't understand how or why Cole keeps all his emotions to himself.

As much as Cole resents his interest in Joely, with her inquisitive and caring nature, he can't deny her appeal. Against his better judgment, he becomes involved in both her and her son's lives. Taylor is in desperate need of a positive male role model, and Cole can't turn his back on the boy. But when Joely starts talking love, Cole's inability to commit puts an end to their relationship—until a dangerous situation throws them back together.

When given a second chance at love, will Cole risk letting Joely into his battered heart?

PURCHASE LINKS

Roane Publishing:  https://www.roanepublishing.com/product-p/snw-01.htm
Amazon:
Amazon UK: 
Barnes & Noble:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/show-no-weakness-joyce-holmes/1111384269
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/
Kobo:  https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/show-no-weakness
Bookstrand


~~~oOo~~~

Excerpt:

“By the time I turned sixteen, I was pregnant. I became a child bride at seventeen, married to an adult-sized infant with chest hair, with a real live baby doll to take care of, as well. That marriage was the biggest mistake I’ve ever made. Before I hit twenty-one, it was over.” She heard the bitterness in her voice and stopped talking.


“That had to be rough, but isn’t it time to stop beating yourself up about it? At least you had enough sense to get out.”


The compassion, the offer of understanding in his voice almost overwhelmed Joely. She wondered if he’d be as sympathetic if he knew she had left her precious little boy with her alcoholic husband while she worked. And it took four years and a serious injury before she clued in to the fact her toddler didn’t get all his bruises from being overactive and clumsy.

No, Cole had it wrong; she didn’t have a whole lot of sense when she was younger.

He pushed his coffee cup aside and leaned forward in his chair to stare sharply at her. She realized he must be very good at his investigative work. Those dark penetrating eyes would intimidate anyone into telling the truth when they flashed as fiercely as they were right now.

“You’re upset. I didn’t mean to do that,” he apologized. “I wanted to make you feel better.”

“Oh no, hey, I’m not upset with you. I actually appreciate your effort. I can’t remember the last time I had a conversation with a man who cared how I felt about myself. Men are usually much more concerned about how I feel about them.”

“You already told me you didn’t like me.” He smiled brilliantly, his eyes crinkling. “Whaddaya say to giving me a chance to change your mind?”

For just a moment, Joely saw beneath the laughing, self-confident grin to the flicker of loneliness in his eyes. He was new to the area, she remembered. He probably didn’t know many people, and here she was monopolizing the conversation. She ignored his question and posed one of her own.

“Why did you choose law enforcement for your career?”

His gaze unexpectedly turned cold. His features revealed no emotion, nothing to indicate why he suddenly shut down. The pause grew a little too long, giving Joely the impression he preferred not to answer.

“I take a lot of satisfaction out of my job, especially working with the kids,” he eventually replied, his voice back to that aggravatingly polite, neutral tone. “But it wasn’t a matter of choice so much as of doing what was expected.”

“Your parents said you had to become a cop?” Joely wanted to keep her mouth shut and let him do the talking, but stunned disbelief made her blurt it out before she could stop herself.

Cole smiled tightly. “My grandfather was a cop, same with my father. As far as they were concerned, there was no other suitable job for a Dennison, and they presumed I’d follow their lead. My mom didn’t get a say; she died when I was five.”

Joely let out an involuntary gasp of sympathy. “Oh, I’m sorry. How sad for you to grow up without a mother.” Not having a father had left a gaping hole in her childhood and even though her mom would’ve never won mother-of-the-year, she’d always given freely of her hugs and kisses. She was important to Joely, and Joely couldn’t imagine growing up without her.

Cole lifted a shoulder casually. “I survived. You don’t miss what you never really had.”

“Yes, you do,” she replied fiercely. “You miss it and you want it terribly. At least I did. I wanted a father more than I wanted anything else. It was the defining reality of my childhood. How can you say you didn’t miss your mother?”

Something hard and acrid flashed in his eyes, and he didn’t acknowledge her words. He pushed out of his chair abruptly. “We should get back to the detachment. Your son’s waited long enough.”


~~~oOo~~~

About the Author:


Joyce Holmes lives with her husband and very small dog in the beautiful Okanagan region of British Columbia. Photography and blogging about her travels are two of her passions, along with visiting her kids and grandkids. When she's not dreaming up stories in her head or planning her next great adventure, she’s off enjoying the great outdoors.

Links:




~~~oOo~~~

GIVEAWAY!


A $10 Roane Publishing Gift Card



Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.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. Giveaway was organized by Roane Publishing's marketing department.

Friday, April 7, 2017

#FlashFictionFriday! Not in Kansas Anymore by @LSJRomance #Shifters #Romance

Not in Kansas Anymore

by London Saint James

Oregon – Gold Mining Territory - 1924
Casten

I stared up at the full moon—big and bright—as it lit up the sky, casting my long shadow across the crop of trees edging the bluff like old sentinels with their branches outstretched wide. Weary to the bone, I rolled my shoulders, listening to the sounds of the night and pushed back the vacant sensation in my soul.

The unmistakable sound of a twig snapping had me instinctively sniffing the air. By the cloying scent, I knew who approached.

“Leave me be, Celesta,” I grumbled through gritted teeth.

“Sneaking off? Father won’t be pleased,” my half-sister said in a soprano voice as cold as ice.

I wasn’t sneaking, though I was leaving, heading for the one place my human mother had called home.

“What I do and where I go is none of your concern,” I said. “And I don’t care what does or doesn’t please our father.”

“You’ve always been a sniveling bastard, hiding behind Neeta as if she could protect you from yourself.”

I turned to face my sister. “Go away before things get ugly.”

Her silver lamé tunic-style evening dress shimmered in the light of the moon. And her dark, bobbed hair flirted with her sharp cheekbones.

I tightened my jaw. “Go back into town and seduce some poor, unsuspecting man.”

She circled me—one, long fingernail tracing across the shirt covering my shoulder. “You’re weak, brother. I’ll never know why Father didn’t rip your throat out the day you were born like he did your mother's.”

I growled, clutched her by the throat, and squeezed. “Shut up!”

She grinned, bearing her fangs, and wrenched herself from my hold.

It was too late. I couldn’t hold him back. My body shook and my gums burned as my incisors broke through the tender flesh and descended. “Get away from me before I hurt you.”

I let loose of her and shoved her back.

Celesta sniffed, indignant. “Hurt me? That’s laughable.”

My fingernails bent back, allowing my claws to come to the fore. “Run!” I snarled.

She turned from me, unconcerned.

I leaped and tackled my bitch of a sister to the ground. Unlike me, she instantly shifted into her wolf-born form, biting as the dress she had on fell from her animal body—taken by the breeze. It caught and dangled off a tree limb, fluttering as her teeth sank deep into my flesh.

I yelled out in pain, voice quivering into the tones of a yelping wolf as my ears tipped and stood to black points.

The sleeves on the plaid shirt I wore tore before it shredded as my muscles rippled and bones cracked, reforming me.

Snarls, growls, and more chomping bites echoed in the night.

My trousers tangled into the jumbled fight as my body contorted and tumbled with hers.

I kicked.

Celesta flew up from me and landed on all fours as I rolled and stopped in a crouch, stomping the ground with my massive paw.

My ears went back.

We ran, head-on, set on a collision course with each other. When we crashed, it became a blur of viciousness, flying gray hair, black hair, and blood glistening in the moonlight until I gained the advantage.

Teeth to my sister's throat, she relaxed, lifted her hind leg, and bared her soft gray underbelly.

Letting loose of her, the she-wolf scrambled back.

Still worked up, I paced, predatorily, eyes more than likely glowing with the night shine of my animal until she bowed her head, an acceptance of my dominance.

The beast growled low in my throat. Hackles up.

I hated him. I hated myself. I hated my pack. Celesta. Our father. We were all abhorrent creatures.

Lowering my head, I rammed forward, pummeling into Celesta’s side. The sound of her ribs cracking followed by her yap of pain gave the beast and me satisfaction.

We’d blindsided her while she had submitted, something we shouldn’t have done, but I didn’t expect to see her tumble over the edge of the rock face.

Realizing what I had allowed my hatred to do, I took over, transformed back into my human-born state, scrambled to the edge, and saw Celesta clawing at a small patch of dirt on a thin ledge—her hind legs kicking in open air.

“Change!” I yelled, going to my knees, bending and extended a mangled arm out for her.

Blood slid down my forearm in dark rivulets and dripped from my fingertips.

Celesta shifted—her nude, female frame battered as she reached for me, grunting, then wrapped her fingers around my wrist.

“Come on.” I tugged until she was safely on the rocky protrusion. “You can jump up to me from there.”

She stared up at me, silver eyes narrowing, and yanked.

Caught unaware, I went over the edge, body flying past her, listening to Celesta’s cackling laughter as I headed for the boulders below…

****

Present Day - Laissez les bons temps rouler
Adeline

My hand shook as I lifted the newspaper I’d folded into a neat rectangle. Promptly, I re-read the classified ad I’d circled while eating Beignets in the French Quarter.

Full-time assistant wanted. Room and board supplied. Apply in person.

Nervous, I stood outside the ornamental gate and stared at the huge, white, antebellum mansion. It sat nestled just beyond a circular courtyard and flower-filled garden.

I double checked the address in the ad with the street address.

The Garden District. This is the correct location.

I glanced up once more at the stunning home and shoved the paper into my oversized shoulder bag before quickly taking inventory of myself. I had on a sensible white blouse, a tan skirt, and had rolled my long, strawberry blonde hair up into a tidy and efficient twist.

My brow crinkled when I saw a wrinkle or two playing across the front of my skirt, mocking me. Wrinkles were only one of the hazards of wearing cotton garments fresh out of the dryer from the craptastic laundry mat I frequented. Little lint balls of fuzz were the other, but thankfully I had picked all of them off before putting the skirt on.

Smoothing my hands over her hips, in an attempt to tug out those telltale signs I didn’t actually own an iron, I straightened my shoulders. I might not look like I came from the hallowed halls of an Ivey League establishment, but figured I could pass as a lowly assistant.

Taking a deep breath, I opened the gate and walked down the cobbled path. The smell of roses and jasmine played on the breeze as morning birdsong flitted through the trees and butterflies bounced on air.

Standing on the massive porch that wrapped around the front of the mansion, I about jumped out of my skin when the wooden screen door shot open, hit the wall with a thwack, swung back toward the frame, and made a clatter-tap.

I took a step sideways to avoid being run over by an upset woman who came out with her arms flailing in the air—raven-dark hair flowing down her back and ruffling in the breeze. I couldn’t catch all of what the woman was saying other than, “I quit!”

Caught on the porch, and unable to look at anything other than the scene taking place, I stared at the woman’s striking features. She was pissed off, with her lip curled up in a snarl and her chocolate-brown eyes glittering in apparent anger.

“El hombre está completamente locos!”

The exotic woman huffed past, hopping down the stairs, stubby heels clicking on cobblestones, still mumbling in Spanish as she headed for the gate.

“Don’t pay no mind to, Maria,” a deep male voice said in a drawl.

It wasn’t the Cajun French or Louisiana French accent I had come to appreciate since being in the Deep South, but a voice laced in a southern accent all the same.

Twirling around to face the open front door, expecting to see a stately man standing in the doorway, I saw a pale, shirtless man with strong, broad shoulders and a smooth, well-muscled chest—the screen door propped against the footrest of his wheelchair.

As he rolled himself out he said, “She’s a bit temperamental.”

He maneuvered the chair and stopped dead center in front of me, only he didn’t immediately look at me. His focus stayed on the woman named Maria.

Once Maria was off the property, the man’s muscles seemed to relax. He placed his hand on his forehead then ran his fingers through his shoulder-length, black as night hair, momentarily freeing the features of his highly chiseled cheekbones. Despite his washed-out pallor, the scruff on his jaw, and the fact he was confined to a wheelchair, he was devastatingly handsome.

I figured him to be in his early thirties, even though there was something about him that said he was older.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “Have I come at a bad time?”

He waved his hand dismissively, making his beefy bicep flex. “Now is just as
good a time as any.”

“Oh. Um…Okay.”

The strap on my bag was beginning to slide down my arm, so I grabbed it and yanked it back in place none too gently.

The man chose that moment to pay attention, turning his head toward me, slowly, giving me a narrow-eyed stare.

His shoulders stiffened.

His nostrils flared.

His jaw tightened.

I squirmed and had the crazy impulse to run.

Two seconds later his brow smoothed. He briefly closed his eyes, and when he reopened them, his celestial blue gaze started at my head, trailed down my frame, rested on my sandal-covered feet, then returned to my face. “I’m Creed. Casten Creed. And you are?”

“Adeline Wilson,” I said, voice quavering. “I’m here about—”

“The job,” he said abruptly.

“Yes, sir.”

“No need for ‘sir.’” He did a fancy wheelie and turn. “Can you get the screen door for me?”

I reached for the handle and tugged, opening it.

“Much obliged,” he said then rolled his chair into the house.

I wasn’t sure if I should follow or not. He hadn’t actually invited me in.

“Don’t just stand out there gathering flies,” he said. “Come on in. And make sure to shut the front door.”

“Sure,” I muttered, scrambling to catch up to him.

When I stepped inside the foyer, I’m sure my eyes went wide. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting to see, but it wasn’t antique paintings of nude women. And it wasn’t one or two aged boudoir images, but scads of them hung on the wall in gilded frames.

“The door,” Casten reminded.

I quickly turned and closed the heavy door. “Got it.”

Mr. Creed rolled himself down a hallway, me tagging along. We passed a fancy elevator next to a grand staircase.

Captivated by my surroundings, I paused. Two carved, life-sized wolves were seated on the floor, positioned on either side of the banister posts. I took in their workmanship. The detail.

Aware this wasn’t a sightseeing trip, I started walking again. I’d fallen behind. Putting some pep in my step, I caught up and trailed behind my hope-to-be employer, finally bringing my attention to where I was going before I bumped into him.

“Where are you from?” he inquired.

“Kansas.”

“Hm…”

It was quiet for a moment.

“Why have you come to New Orleans?” he asked, turning into what looked to be a library.

I couldn’t tell him the truth so settled for, “It was a spontaneous decision.”

He gave a wicked sounding chuckle, making the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. “Well, Dorothy, you’re sure as shit not in Kansas anymore.”

~~~oOo~~~

About the Author:

r: London wrote her first short story in the second grade. Her teacher informed her parents she had a big imagination, and as far as he was concerned, having a big imagination wasn’t necessarily a good thing, so she placed her vivid characters, her childhood stories, along with her imagination on the shelf, where they would wither for a while. After all, she needed to grow up and do the “sensible thing.”

Life moved on, London grew up, and the sensible thing earned London a degree in Psychology. She took a serious job in the real world, doing serious things and being a responsible adult, although the need to be a little irresponsible crept in. As a result, she started scribbling again.

Happy to find her imagination was still alive and kicking, she decided to pursue writing, walked away from doing the sensible thing, took on the world of the written word, and has never looked back!